When the Orioles acquired Felix Pie from the Cubs, they did so with the hope he would step into a part-time job in left field and gradually grow into it over time. And though April has proven to be a tough month for Pie, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley is determined to stick with him for the foreseeable future.
Pie went into Thursday night's game with a .135 batting average and had an 0-for-11 skid in Baltimore's recent trip to Boston, but Trembley thinks he'll improve as he gets more comfortable with the league.
"I don't think he's really settled in on a consistent basis with the stance and the approach we want," said Trembley. "I think what hinders him is not playing successive days. I think he's a guy that needs to play a lot in succession to get in a groove or some kind of rhythm. It's easy for him to fall back into that comfort zone."
And with that in mind, Trembley called for a special early batting practice session for Pie and hitting coach Terry Crowley, during which the Orioles spelled out the strategy they want the youngster to take. Trembley and Crowley asked Pie to practice hitting every ball into the ground so he can make best use of his speed.
"I said, 'A good game for you would be to go out and score three runs, because I'll know you've been on base,'" said Trembley, relaying a private conversation. "I said, 'It's fun to watch you go home-to-second and first-to-home.' That, to me, would be a successful game for him -- get the on-base percentage better."
Another part of the tutelage involved being more patient and learning to take a walk. Trembley said if Pie can get into better hitter's counts, he can do more damage by jumping on a pitch he can hit. And that means subtly altering his game from an aggressive swing-first mentality to one better suited to his skills.
"He's swinging a lot, first pitch from the get-go, and a lot of those pitches are out of the strike zone. ... A walk for him is an opportunity to score a run," said Trembley of his No. 8 hitter. "That guy's an important guy, especially with two outs. Get on base any way you can and clear the No. 9 guy out.
"Roll the lineup over so those guys hitting in the middle late in the game will get that fourth or fifth at-bat. Or more importantly, they're probably going to come up with guys on base."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.