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Reimold vs. Pearce choice was easy

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Reimold vs. Pearce choice was easy

Late on Wednesday night, the Orioles avoided arbitration with Nolan Reimold, signing him to a one-year, $1.3 million contract.

That wasn’t necessarily a popular move with some fans, who have made the gentle Reimold into a polarizing figure in Baltimore.

Last year, Reimold completed a relatively healthy season, playing in a combined 115 games in Norfolk and with the Orioles, his most since 2011.

The Orioles don’t view him as a regular, but he had a .344 on-base percentage in 61 games, trailing only Chris Davis and Manny Machado.

Reimold has a good batting eye and while he’s not the power threat he was before his neck injuries, he still hit six homers. He’s a usefuL player.

The Orioles desperately need left-handed hitting, and if Chris Davis signs elsewhere, the need grows more desperate.

As a result, it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of Steve Pearce, at least for now.

Pearce does some things that Reimold doesn’t. He can fill in at first base, and hit 21 home runs in 2014, but there are some similarities.

Both have had injury-marred careers, both have worked diligently to return, and both play left field. And, they hit right-handed. They’re also the same age, 32.

Because Pearce had the breakout year in 2014 when he hit .293 and had an outstanding .373 OBP, he was hoping to cash in as a free agent this year.

But, Pearce felll back to a .218 average in 92 games. After making $3.7 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, Pearce wanted his first multi-year contract. He may not get it.

Not only do the Orioles have Reimold as a right-handed hitting option in the outfield, they also have the recently re-acquired L.J. Hoes and Dariel Alvarez to serve as backups, too. Pearce would make four.

If Pearce doesn’t find a taker, and there’s been no chatter about him so far, then it’s not beyond the realm of conception that he’s a late signee. Pearce is very popular with his teammates and with manager Buck Showalter.

He’s just not worth that much more than Reimold.

The Darren O’Day sweepstakes may soon be coming to an end, and the question is whether I’ll continue to have the pleasure of covering him—or will my friend and colleague Mark Zuckerman have the fun instead?

O’Day’s final choices are between the Orioles and Nationals, and if he somehow chooses to remain in Baltimore, it will be a powerful statement on the influence of Showalter.

Showalter and new Nationals manager Dusty Baker are two of the most popular managers among players. O’Day is eternally grateful for Showalter’s guidance.

Under Buck, O’Day has become one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, and while the sense is that he’d really like to stay with the Orioles, the Nationals may be offering enough to make a substantial difference.

When Mariano Rivera announced his retirement, his longtime manager, Joe Torre, said: “He basically made my career.”

I think it’s fair to say that Showalter, and he wouldn’t ever say it, has basically made O’Day’s career.

Prior to coming to Baltimore, O’Day was a solid, if underappreciated sidearmer with Texas.

Thanks to Showalter’s loving care, O’Day has posted an astounding 23-8 record with a 1.92 ERA in four seasons with a WHIP of .0939. He’s played on two postseason clubs, and become a clubhouse leader, a rarity for a reliever.

O’Day’s decision may be followed by one from Wei-Yin Chen on his next destination.

With David Price and Zack Greinke expectedly receiving eye-popping contracts, Chen, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija and some others will cash in from clubs such as the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals, who lost out on Price and Greinke.

Jordan Zimmermann, who is in that class, signed last weekend with Detroit.

As for Davis, it’s been pretty quiet, and his agent, Scott Boras, may hold him out for an extended time to try and extract the best deal. Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Heyward and Justin Upton are probably the premier position players, and other than a few catchers signing, it appears that that market hasn’t gathered steam, yet.

It will as the Winter Meetings get underway on Sunday in Nashville.

The Orioles will be linked with dozens of players, and some of the reports may actually be true.

One signing that escaped notice around here was Jim Johnson’s return to Atlanta. Johnson, who the Orioles traded two years ago because they didn’t want to pay him $10 million, has been with four teams since then.

The Braves are the only one Johnson has had some success with, and after a disastrous few months with the Dodgers, he signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million.

MORE ORIOLES: Garcia could have bright future with Orioles

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.