BOSTON -- The Orioles on Friday placed their hottest hitter, outfielder Nolan Reimold, on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disc in his cervical spine.

The injury was preceded by neck spasms that have plagued Reimold for the past two weeks, and manager Buck Showalter said prior to Friday's game that they are hoping by placing him on the DL -- from which he would be eligible to return May 16 -- the issue will be resolved completely.

"He's doing a little better," Showalter said of Reimold, who the O's hoped would rejoin them Friday. "He's still got some numbness in his fingers. Talking to the doctors and everything, one concern is if he came back and he was like 90 percent and we tried to play him, he could be set back to where he was again. The advice is to have it completely resolve itself."

Reimold last played in Monday's game in New York, going hitless to snap a team-high 14-game hit streak, and he later alerted the team's athletic trainers that he was experiencing fingertip tingling. The 28-year-old Reimold was sent back to Baltimore to be examined by the Orioles' team physicians, who diagnosed a bulging disc in his cervical spine, an area up around the neck, and gave him a Medrol Dosepak to help calm the inflammation.

Reimold's injury is a big blow for the Orioles, particularly given how well he's hit while in the lineup. The right-handed hitter, who had been the O's leadoff man, has a .313 batting average with five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games. In the interim, the Orioles will use Endy Chavez in left field, with Showalter mentioning Wilson Betemit, Ryan Flaherty and Mark Reynolds as other options.

Taking Reimold's place on the 25-man roster is catcher Luis Exposito, who was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox on April 17. Exposito has played in 13 games between Triple-A Pawtucket and Triple-A Norfolk this season, hitting .288/.339/.423. He's 15-for-52, with three RBIs.

Both catchers, Ronny Paulino and Matt Wieters, were in Friday's starting lineup, with Wieters at designated hitter. Showalter said having a third catcher will allow them to use both Paulino and Wieters without risking the use of an emergency catcher.

"Just to give us the flexibility to DH Matt and Ronny," Showalter said of the move. "We've got three out of the next seven starters [who] are left-handed, and he's a good player. Talking to [Triple-A manager] Ron Johnson and our Minor League people, they were really, really impressed with him and had previous experience with him."