O's gauging interest in Pie, Salazar

Orioles gauging interest in Pie, Salazar

SEATTLE -- The Orioles have a tough decision to make Thursday, and a trade could very well be the solution.

Shortstop Cesar Izturis began his rehab from appendicitis Tuesday night with Double-A Bowie, and the veteran figures to be ready to be activated on Friday night in Toronto, barring a setback.

A scan of the team's roster reveals that if Baltimore doesn't pull a major Trade Deadline deal by unloading a proven veteran like Aubrey Huff or Brian Roberts, the club will be forced to choose between keeping outfield prospect Felix Pie and surprising utility man Oscar Salazar.

Both players are out of Minor League options, so designating either one for assignment would make them available via the waiver wire. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail indicated Tuesday that the team probably won't have to go that route, however.

"I think the market would indicate that they have greater value than just a waiver claim," MacPhail said.

"I think it's one of those things that there's good news and bad news. The bad news is you have to make a roster decision and you have a limited amount of flexibility.

"The good news is that your extra players are getting to the point where they're attractive to a lot of teams. And that is a sign of progress, that as opposed to guys that are just kind of, in baseball parlance, '4A' guys, these are guys that other clubs have some interest in. So we'll see what evolves.

"The first thing we need to make sure is that Cesar's rehab goes as scheduled. I think that's the first and foremost thing."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley agreed that it would be a hard call to make for the Orioles either way. Pie's raw tools are respected throughout baseball and he turned 24 in February, which would help many teams look past the fact that he's hitting .234. Salazar, 30, has hit .385 and slugged .500 while manning four different positions in a clutch backup role.

"It's been good having the insurance of Pie," Trembley said.

"I think the last month, the at-bats that he's had, he's hit much better against right-handed pitching. Salazar has been a very productive guy off the bench. He was extremely valuable, especially against National League clubs during Interleague [Play]. It would be hard to lose either guy.

"If they were put on waivers, I would be surprised if they went through without being claimed, especially by a National League club."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.