SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Last season was a nightmare for Nolan Reimold. After 16 games, he was sidelined with a herniated disk in his neck. Now, after surgery and months of rehabilitation, the Baltimore Orioles' outfielder is back trying to finally fulfill his potential.
"I've got ground to make up. I want to get back to top form, play, be on the field as much as I can, and play and be a part of the team. I've got a lot of things motivating me right now, so I'll just use what I can and turn it into something positive," Reimold said.
Reimold's final at-bat in 2012 came on April 30 when he grounded out against Mariano Rivera. Then his back started hurting him, leading to weeks of exams, epidural injections and lots of waiting. In late June, Reimold had surgery. Nearly nine months later, the outfielder can't wait to get going.
"I think I'm doing pretty good. I think I'm pretty far along. I still have some progress left to make. I'm swinging it pretty good, all things considered, but I still have a ways to go," he said.
At 29, Reimold has plenty to prove to the Orioles. He's never played a full season with them. His rookie season in 2009 was truncated after Achilles tendon surgery. Reimold had 15 home runs and a .279 batting average in 104 games, though, and Baltimore hoped that was the beginning of a great career.
In 2010, he couldn't hit and was sent back to Triple-A Norfolk early in the season. Reimold ended the year with a .207 average in just 39 games. In 2011, he hit 13 home runs in 87 games, and last spring manager Buck Showalter was talking about him as a possible leadoff hitter.
The season started well, but after five home runs and a .313 average, it ended sadly.
Showalter likes what he's seen so far this spring.
"I kind of like the edge that Nolan's got right now," he said.
"I do have a long memory of what Nolan was getting ready to do for us last year. And how he got hurt. So he's going to get a very patient approach. He can be a big player for us this year, something that a lot of people have forgotten about."
In one of last spring's first games, Reimold was hit in the face by a pitch from Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb. A few days later, Reimold was playing again.
"He's a tough guy. A lot of people might have threw their hands up in the air and said, `That's enough. It's just not meant to be,"' Showalter said.
What will Showalter do with Reimold? His best position is left field, but the manager doesn't want to talk about a possible platoon with Nate McLouth there.
"I don't want to use that p-word right now," Showalter said.
Reimold could see some time at designated hitter, but Showalter said firmly he won't try him at first base. It's probably his last chance to prove himself to the Orioles. He doesn't want to consider that.
"You've got to play well to keep your job. There's always a little bit of pressure, but I don't think anybody thinks of it like that," Reimold said. "I have a lot of things I have to make up."
NOTES: RHP Jair Jurrjens, who signed a minor league contract Friday after more than three weeks of negotiations, reported to camp. The Orioles have 61 players in spring training.