DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter could tell Nolan Reimold was almost back to normal Sunday for one reason: The outfielder was more upset with how he played than how he felt.
Reimold made his Spring Training debut in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Blue Jays and had his first at-bat since April 30, the last game he played in 2012 before undergoing surgery on his neck June 25. Reimold had four pieces of a ruptured disk in his neck removed and the vertebrae fused back together in that operation, but he was clearly eager to get back on the field with the Orioles.
"I worked really hard this offseason to be able to play this Spring Training, so, first game is kind of a milestone," Reimold said. "My goal is to be out there during the regular season."
"Not nervous. More excited. Happy to step in the box again. It's been a long 10 months, I think it's been, since I had an at-bat. I just felt good to have it behind me."
Reimold started in left field and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He admitted he'll need to see more pitches and take a few more swings early on before he feels comfortable in the batter's box again, but he said he is able to take the field as often as Showalter will let him.
"I want to play whenever he puts me in there. I think the plan is to take me a little bit slow but gradually progressing, but that's what he does with everybody," Reimold said. "If he did put me in there every game, I would be able to do it, physically, but I don't think that's the plan."
Showalter agreed that he won't even start thinking about whether Reimold is prepared for the regular season -- in terms of his performance, not his health -- until the last week of Spring Training, as Reimold is still working his way back into baseball shape after a long and grueling rehabilitation.
"He's just kind of getting out of that mode of thinking about every time he swings, 'Is this going to hurt?'" Showalter said. "Every little step he takes, if you look at the number of days he missed, he's kind of just getting back into baseball activities as much as working with that new procedure that took care of his problem, we hope."