Reimold on his neck injury, recovery and staying on the field

SARASOTA, Fla.– He had hit long home runs, the kind that you hear off the bat before rocketing undoubtedly onto the other side of outfield walls, but this wasn’t one of them. Nolan Reimold wasn’t sure where the 1-1, 90-mph sinker he got a hold of from Angels righty Jerome Williams would end up, and he wasn’t planning on watching.

Physically, he couldn’t.

One of Baltimore’s more reserved players, there was nothing unusual that April 20 night about Reimold dropping his bat and running down to first base without celebrating a two-run, seventh-inning homer that — at the time — cut the Orioles’ deficit to three runs. Only upon close inspection of the replay can you see him cock his head several fractions to the left and stop, as the club’s hottest hitter raced down to first base instead. It was easier that way, because the pain in his neck, which had started three days earlier, was only tolerable when Reimold looked straight ahead.

Reimold wouldn’t exactly see where the ball landed until he rounded first base, but the left fielder felt the aftermath of that swing the rest of the night. It would lock up his trapezius muscle in the outfield — particularly on the left side, where he started to get tingly and lose feeling — and later keep him awake in his hotel room, unable to roll over despite some strategic pillow placement.

“I would wake up in the morning and go to the field, and every day I would think, ‘How the heck am I going to play today?'” said Reimold, who eventually had four pieces of a ruptured disk in his neck removed and the vertebrae fused back together as part of a season-ending procedure in June. “And by game time, I just played.”

For the rest of the story on Reimold’s recovery and his motivation this spring, click here.

***

As is usually the case in a longer feature story, I had some leftover Nolan Reimold quotes that didn’t make it in the Orioles.com piece and those are below…

[on being called injury prone] “I’ve had injuries, I’m not denying that obviously. But I’m not, tweak here I’m going to sit out. I played with my neck until I absolutely couldn’t play. I tried to stay on the field and I shouldn’t have. That’s what did it to me is because I kept playing. That’s the reason why it got as bad as it did.”

“If you think about those two injuries [the neck and the Achilles] they are kind of out of your control. It’s not lack of being prepared or being out of shape.  In all honesty, after I had those muscle spasms I should have stopped playing and let it heal. I just kept pushing it and pushing it and pushing it until finally it was too late.”

[on where he is in his recovery with his left arm] “It’s still early for something like this and it will keep getting better and better. My arm feels a lot stronger since I’ve already been done in Sarasota. My forearm feels stronger, hand on the glove, hand on the bat. So I still have a long time here in Sarasota, but I feel pretty good…I think I’ll be able to do everything [this spring]. I don’t plan on going slow.”

[on if anything bothers him in particular] “No, I’m pretty far along. All I’m waiting for is all the strength to come back in my arm, which it will. So there’s still a lot of progress to be made but I’m far along and I’m able to play. And it’s going to keep better and better, we still have a lot of time this spring.”

[on his neck mobility] “It’s still a work in progress. It’s only been 7 ½ months. The neck is fused, but it still takes [time] the neck is still loosening up. the mobility doesn’t really affect me when I’m hitting or swinging or anything. that’s not a problem. I got a lot of strength back, I’m pretty far along, but there’s still progress to be made. Which it will,  because I’m getting better and better and better.”

[on watching the 2012 season and being hurt] “Yeah, it kind of sucked. I’m sure it was a really fun summer up here. I was down in Florida doing my rehab, weak as hell and just trying to get better. It was a lot better once I was able to start doing stuff so I could feel like I was making progress toward getting back. But just sitting around, not being able to do much, I think early on was the toughest part. Later on when they were in the playoffs, that was exciting. I was sitting there watching it. I wish I could have been part of it but, I just couldn’t.”

[on getting neck surgery] “Neck surgery is scary, but Mr. Angelos went out and did research on who to do my surgery, so he hooked me up with the best surgeon so I had all the confidence in the world that he was going to do the best job. But that being said, it’s still neck surgery. You can’t really get too much worse than getting your neck cut open, having spine surgery.”

[on if he saved the four pieces of bone they took out of his neck] “I wanted to, I was going to tell the doctor save them for me but then my wife was like, ‘That’s disgusting don’t do that’.”

2 Comments

Beautiful weather today in Sarasota. Sunny, deep blue sky 70 degrees chamber of commerce kind of day. I got to watch some drills, hitting and bullpens but the spectator areas aren’t very close to the action. The best way to get upclose and personal is when the players move from one field to another at the side gates. Many disappointed fans. Didn’t see any players stop and sign today. Buck Showalter initially was walking around to all the different fields carrying his baseball bat but must have gotten tired and jumped into a golf cart.
Buster Olney and Jayson Stark from ESPN were both here and Buster stopped to say hello. Never got to see you Britt. Where were you hiding?

I was watching the team defense on the fields and then the bullpens along the side of the building.

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