When the Orioles lost outfielder Nolan Reimold on waivers to the Toronto Blue Jays July 6, they weren't necessarily losing a valuable player; he's more suspect than prospect at this point, as Stan "The Fan" Charles wrote. But even though Reimold didn't spend a lot of time on the field during his five-year Orioles career, he managed to make a mark on the team all the same.
Reimold's first season, 2009, was something of a transition season for the Orioles, as a cavalcade of homegrown young prospects arrived in the majors en masse. The Orioles' two most recent No. 1 draft picks at the time, catcher Matt Wieters and left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz, both made their big league debuts in 2009, as did highly regarded pitching prospect Chris Tillman and a slew of other young hurlers, including Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken.
But the first member of the rookie brigade to arrive in the majors was Reimold, who made his major league debut May 14, 2009, at Kansas City. Reimold had nine home runs during 31 games at Triple-A Norfolk at the time of his promotion, fresh off a 25-homer season at Double-A Bowie in 2008.
Reimold was an instant hit in the majors. He collected hits during 13 of his 16 games in May, totaling five home runs, 11 RBIs and an .863 OPS during that span. During his 13th game in the majors, May 27, Reimold delivered a dramatic walkoff hit, smashing a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to power the Birds to a 12-10 win. The game ranked No. 16 in the most memorable games in Camden Yards history. That clutch blast, incidentally, came against Reimold's new employer, the Blue Jays.
Reimold stayed hot for the rest of the season as the everyday left fielder, finishing with an .831 OPS during 104 games. He brought a patient plate approach to an otherwise free-swinging team; his .365 on-base percentage was the best of any O's regular. Reimold also brought a spark of energy to the team with his boundless hustle, running harder and faster than his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame might suggest.
The successful debut season for Reimold, whom the O's had drafted during the second round of the 2005 amateur draft, provided fans with renewed faith in the Orioles' farm system. Before calling up Reimold, the O's had a miserable track record of developing homegrown position players, with outfielder Nick Markakis being one of the few success stories during the Birds' 14 straight losing seasons.
Reimold, as it turned out, didn't become much of a success, either. During the five years since his rookie season, Reimold hasn't been able to replicate or surpass his 2009 offensive stats. The 104 games he played that season remain his career high; he has been limited to 40 or fewer games during three of his four seasons since.
Reimold suffered a litany of injuries, which hounded him for seasons on end, beginning with an Achilles' tendon injury, which shut him down at the end of 2009 and required surgery. Reimold was slow to recover from the surgery in 2010, which torpedoed his production and sent him on a shuttle between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk for parts of two seasons. More recently, Reimold suffered a season-ending neck injury 16 games into the 2012 season and underwent spinal fusion surgery, then required a second surgery in 2013 when the first one didn't take.
But during the sporadic moments when Reimold was on the field, he made a few significant contributions to the Birds. In 2011, during the Orioles' season-ending walkoff victory against the Red Sox, which knocked Boston out of a postseason spot, Reimold delivered the game-tying RBI double off closer Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Reimold who then raced around to score from second base on Robert Andino's game-icing hit, with jubilant Orioles teammates swarming to meet him at home plate. That scene has become one of the most iconic images of recent Orioles history.
And though Reimold was several months gone from the active roster when the Orioles made the postseason in 2012, his early season contributions helped the club collect important April wins. Reimold hit five home runs in 69 plate appearances and amassed a .960 OPS before hitting the shelf.
For years, many O's fans have held out hope that Reimold could someday return to full health and bring consistent power and on-base ability to the lineup … but with each lost season that passed for Reimold, that hope become increasingly slim. And this time, when Reimold completed his latest rehab stint, the Birds moved on without him.
Now north of the border, Reimold made his Blue Jays debut July 7, starting in right field and going 0-for-3. Though there was no room for Reimold on the Orioles' roster, Birds fans might be interested in tracking his progress with his new club. They'll likely be wishing Reimold good luck -- just as long as he doesn't help the Blue Jays overtake the Orioles in the division standings.