SARASOTA, Fla. - Nolan Reimold was drafted by the Orioles in 2005 and spent his entire career in the organization until last summer. Designated for assignment by the club last July 1, he was claimed off waivers by Toronto and also played with Arizona.
For the first time, he was an ex-Oriole.
Now Reimold is back with the club - where he wanted to be this year all along - is hoping to finally return to complete health and to make his way back to the major leagues.
Reimold is now fully recovered from a corrective procedure in 2013 to fuse two vertebrae in his neck.
Signed to a minor league contract by the Orioles on Feb. 9, he is likely going to start this season at Triple-A Norfolk and could have to play his way back to the majors.
Right now, he said he is physically sound and ready for a new season.
“Yeah, I feel good, just the same as everybody else. Just trying to get comfortable at the plate coming into the year and peak at the right time,” he said.
With other teams also offering him minor league deals, Reimold had a decision to make on where to play. But it was not a tough call to return to the Orioles.
“Not really,” he said. “There is no question this is where I wanted to end up. Glad it worked out. I feel like being here, they bring the best out of players and that is really a big thing right now for me, getting back to playing at a high level.
“I just think they have a lot of assets. The strength and conditioning, for one. They’ve given guys opportunities in the past.”
Reimold batted a combined .232/.282/.435 with five doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs in 29 games with the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks in 2014.
Now he wants to show the Orioles the player they once saw - one with some pop in his bat, some speed and one that can work the count.
“Yeah. I just have to play and show I can do it again,” Reimold said. “We’ll see what the year brings, but I’m excited for it.
“It’s all about being consistent, feeling confident every time you step in the box and that hasn’t been the case for me the last two or three years. Just want to be a consistent player again and put my work in so I can feel good on the field and stay on the field.”
Reimold has had a longtime friendship with O’s vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, who helped bring him back to the team.
“He is a big reason why I came back,” Reimold said. “He’s a guy that brings the best out of players and is a huge asset for the organization and team. I’m pretty sure every guy in here feels the same way. I talked to him a lot in the offseason about coming back. He’s definitely one of my biggest advocates and supporters. He’s been big for me.”
As for likely starting the year in the minors, Reimold understands that part of the process, too.
“I’m not in a power negotiating position right now,” he said. “I’ll be focused on playing baseball. If it’s in Norfolk, I’ll keep my head down, work hard, do well and eventually, hopefully, I get another opportunity.”
Reimold has not played over 100 games in any season since 2011. He was a player that didn’t suffer many baseball injuries before the last few years. But now he has to prove he can stay on the field and he understands he’s been labeled injury-prone by the fans.
“I’ve learned it goes quick. Blink of an eye and three years have gone by,” he said. “You really have to take advantage of your opportunities when you have them. Don’t know how many more I’ll be getting, so I will do everything I can to take advantage of this end and think it will all work out in the end.”