ST. PETERSBURG -- Felix Pie made a diving catch to save Monday's game for the Orioles, but he may need significantly more than that to save his tenure with the team. Manager Dave Trembley spoke frankly about Pie on Tuesday, and he said it might be hard to stem the tide of his dwindling at-bats.
Pie, who was acquired from the Cubs during the winter, was tabbed as a starter during Spring Training. He has batted .164 through his first 23 games, though, and Trembley recently said he'd have to earn playing time as a reserve. Now, it seems the Orioles may have to decide if he can help the team in that capacity.
"I think that decision will probably take care of itself," said Trembley. "His situation is very similar to some others. I'm trying to do what I think needs to be done to win some games. Quite honestly, if [Lou] Montanez hadn't done what he did to his thumb, the at-bats that normally would've been given to Pie were going to go to Montanez."
Montanez has been hampered by a sprained right thumb, which has caused the Orioles to play designated hitter Luke Scott out in left field. Baltimore has also considered promoting prospect Nolan Reimold to play left field, which would mean that Montanez would have to be optioned or Pie would get exposed to waivers.
There's a thought that Pie may need to play every day to iron out his potential, and Trembley didn't deny or discourage that line of logic on Tuesday. But that opportunity for playing time just might not exist in Baltimore, and Pie will have to pass through waivers in order to be eligible for an option down to Triple-A Norfolk.
"I just don't know if that's possible or if that will happen this early in the season," said Trembley of possibly losing Pie. "You need all 25 guys on your club. It's just you've got to be able to pick spots."
Trembley was able to do that Monday night, when he tabbed Pie to play defense in the ninth inning. Closer George Sherrill ended up loading the bases and coaxing a short fly to left, and Pie came in to make a tremendous catch. If he hadn't made the play, two runs would've scored and the win would've been in instant jeopardy.
"He made a big play, a big contribution to the game last night," said Trembley. "I don't worry about his confidence. What I'm trying to do is solidify in better fashion the guys that are hitting 7-8-9. I don't think it's productive for us to just have basically the top six guys in the lineup contributing offensively.
"I think you've got to try to get some production out of the guys in the bottom three. If you get one out of three, that's good. If you get two out of three, you're very happy. If you get all three, you're going to the bank."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.