Pie's return clears up lineup issues

Pie's return clears up lineup issues

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles saw their outfield dilemma disappear on Tuesday, when Felix Pie returned to the lineup and slotted in immediately as center fielder and leadoff man. Pie had missed the weekend and Monday's series opener against Tampa Bay with back spasms, pushing Baltimore into contingency mode.

Baltimore had been down to three healthy outfielders for the past few days, and any further injury may have required the Orioles to use infielders Robert Andino and Ty Wigginton out of position. The club said that if Pie was out for another few days, it may have had to dip down to the Minor Leagues to add another body.

"We had to make do," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley of Pie's absence. "Other guys had to pick it up and [Jeff] Fiorentino was probably the guy that did it. He played a very good center field at Yankee Stadium. It's good to get Pie back in there tonight and give [Nolan] Reimold a day because he's been extended."

And with Pie's return, the Orioles were able to get creative with their lineup. Trembley slotted Pie in the top spot and installed former leadoff man Brian Roberts as his No. 3 hitter, giving more protection to Nick Markakis. Pie was given his everyday job by a season-ending ankle injury to Adam Jones suffered at the beginning of the month.

"I'm glad Pie's had a chance," Trembley said. "It's nice to reward Fiorentino for the numbers he put up in Triple-A. But it's always very difficult when you lose your front-line guys because now you're asking guys that haven't been in those situations before to be regulars and that's hard. That's hard to do that."

Pie, who injured his back while swinging last Friday against New York, said that he was able to run, throw and take batting practice without pain. He also said that he had never had a back injury before but that he felt fine on Tuesday. Pie, acquired from the Cubs last winter, seemed excited to get back on the field.

"I [took] a couple swings and I don't feel [anything]," he said. "So I think today, I am ready to play."

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