Colorless, Odorless Nolan Reimold
A few years back, at a Bugs&Cranks gathering in Boston, we took in an Orioles-Red Sox game at Fenway. This was a few years before the O’s climbed to respectability. When the PA guy announced the number 7 hitter, I heard no fewer than five Boston fans say, in perfect unison, “No-lan Rei-mold?”
Nolan Reimold indeed. Hits a little. Fields a little. Runs a little. You know how your power company has to add something to natural gas so that it has a smell and you can recognize it if there’s a leak? No one’s done that to Reimold and it’s my firm belief that the Orioles front office forgets that Reimold occupies a roster spot. There’s a Reimold leak in the clubhouse that put GM Dan Duquette to sleep.
Reimold’s like a case of athlete’s foot. You cannot get rid of him. In years past, the Orioles tried. They optioned him, they DL’d him, they cut him. But he keeps showing up.
As recently as last season, Reimold spent 54 games at triple-A Norfolk for Baltimore, though he was long out of minor-league options. Then, despite a 2016 spring training glut of mediocre left fielders, Reimold somehow made the 25-man Oriole roster and has stuck around all season.
Baltimore drafted Reimold out of Bowling Green State University in the second round in 2005. He scratched his way to the big leagues four seasons later and had a fine rookie season, with 15 homers and an .831 OPS. But injuries ruined his big-earning years.
To say Reimold has been injured a lot does a disservice to injuries. He’s the King of the DL. He’s had it all. Physical and, uh, “personal” issues kept him off the field. Still, somehow, Reimold has eight big-league years under his belt.
The Orioles cut Reimold in 2014, saying goodbye after six years of injuries and inconsistency. Toronto plucked him off waivers and, after two months, they also cut him. Arizona needed a live human being for the final month of their last-place 2014 death march. Reimold was that live human.
That would’ve meant the end for a lot of players. But like a persistent fungus, Reimold showed up at Baltimore’s Sarasota spring training facility in the spring of 2015. Nobody expected anything from him. Having already given up on him once, the O’s kept him and sent him to Norfolk, where he put up decent enough numbers. Nothing special – just enough to get called up in June … then sent back for about a week in August before returning to Baltimore with the September roster expansion.
And damned if he didn’t sign another one-year deal this year. He’ll make a million-three in 2016, the highest salary he’s ever earned. Good thing, too. There were nasty rumors early in Reimold’s career involving either a) dumping his pregnant fiancee when he made the bigs or b) said fiancee trapping him like a crab in a pot. The couple seems to have worked that out, though. They now have six children.
Nolan went deep over the weekend in Cleveland, his fourth homer of the year. He has only nine RBIs, but is hitting .297 and and getting on base at .329. See what I mean? Just enough.
Look in the dugout. There he is. Tall and lanky, but easy to miss. You can look right past him. Utterly unremarkable. Colorless, odorless. The Reimold leak.
So here’s to Nolan Reimold: the Bad Penny of Baltimore, the Boomerang of the Beltway, the Rasputin of Russell Street. Raise a glass to invisibility, to squeezing every drop out of a less-than-stellar career and to that slow, hissing leak that has kept him on the big-league roster.