Felix Pie left batting practice early Friday afternoon with an apparent injury, although it was entirely unclear how serious the injury was. Pie, who was scheduled to hit lead-off against the Blue Jays, was chased by the Orioles medical staff as he hobbled up the tunnel.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Derrek Lee will serve as the designated hitter and hit leadoff tonight for the Bowie Baysox during his minor league rehab assignment as he tries to recover from an injured oblique. He'll be hitting leadoff because the organization is trying to get him as many at bats as possible.
"I would bet he'll be the biggest leadoff hitter in the Eastern League," Showalter joked.
Showalter said he's still not sure when Lee will return to the major league club, and that he'd like to see how tonight goes before making any plans or predictions. He added that he doesn't feel like Lee needs to play first base in the minors before he returns to the Orioles, but he likely will end up playing there anyway. Lee is also going to miss time late next week to attend his grandfather's funeral in Sacramento.
Speaking of first base, Showalter said he couldn't envision a scenario the rest of the year where Nick Markakis played there again, but he did think Markakis handled it fine when he played there in a pinch against the Mariners. Especially when you consider he borrowed Showalter's first baseman's mitt because he didn't have his own.
"He made some plays that you don't see every first baseman make," Showalter said. "But look, Nick is our right fielder. It was a situation where I needed to get Vladdy [Guerrero] off the field, and I needed to give Luke [Scott] a day's rest. I don't see us being in that situation again. But it does give us some flexibility during interleague play with a double switch situation."
As far as interleague play goes, Showalter said he's given a lot of thought about what he's going to do with Guerrero when the Orioles play in National League parks without a designated hitter. He talked to Texas manager Ron Washington about what he did with Guerrero, and has some ideas. But he's not going to reveal what his plans just yet.
"I haven't completely made up my mind," he said.
Justin Duchscherer threw four innings of an extended spring training game Friday and it went well, according to Showalter, although Duchscherer did get hit in the stomach with a line drive. [He continued to pitch.] Showalter said baring any setbacks, Duchscherer will pitch five innings next time out, but there is no timetable for him to join the big league club.
Showalter also said, as far as he knows, no club has expressed interest yet in trading for Jake Fox, who was designated for assignment by the Orioles this week.