As Felix Pie walked out of the clubhouse with his stuff, he stopped to talk for a moment about being designated for assignment by the Orioles on Tuesday.
Once thought to be the club's left fielder of the future after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs for left-hander Garrett Olson and a minor leaguer in 2009, Pie struggled with injuries in 2010 and never could get things going in 2011, batting .220 with no homers and seven RBIs in 164 at-bats. His playing time dwindled dramatically in the past month as Nolan Reimold received the bulk of playing time in left; Pie had just 21 plate appearances in August.
"It's a business. I know that. It's better for me, because here I don't play. And I know I can play every day. I showed the team I could play every day last year, and I did my job. This year, I tried to do my job, too. But it's difficult, tough not to play," Pie told The Baltimore Sun. "I know I am the kind of player that [if] I play every day, I'll do better and better. I think it's much better for me to be put on waivers and see if another team will take me."
The Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on Pie.
When the left-handed-hitting Pie wasn't in the lineup Monday against right-hander Carl Pavano despite being just one of two pure lefty hitters on the roster, it was another sign that his time here was coming to an end. Still, he said, he was surprised when he was told the news.
Pie, once considered by Baseball America to be the best player in the Cubs' farm system, has never realized his five-tool talent in the majors, partially because he seemed handcuffed by a lack of baseball instincts. Only 26 – the same age as Adam Jones and younger than Nick Markakis and Reimold – Pie feels he still has time to meet his potential.
"Nothing is wrong with me. I am the kind of player [who needs] to play every day. That didn't happen with me. And you put Markakis in that situation or Adam and whoever, and they'll do the same thing because they are players that need to play every day, too," he said. "Me, I played 85 games, but I started like . I don't got a chance. I don't know why, what I have to do to get a chance to play every day. But that's the business, and I have to take it."
Popular among teammates for his intense but playful personality, Pie said he'll miss the Orioles players and the organization that gave him a second chance.
"Those guys are my friends, and that was my team here. They gave me an opportunity in 2009, 2010 to play," he said. "So I am going to miss them, but if another team takes me, I have to look at it that way and go play every day."
Pie showed flashes during his Orioles career, hitting for the cycle in 2009 and beginning 2010 as the team's hottest player before ripping a muscle in his back that cost him roughly three months of the season.
"Everybody was given an opportunity, but I think what hurt him was getting hurt [in 2010] and missing three months," center fielder Adam Jones said. "And that moved everybody up. I just think he needs to play, and I still think he can play at this level."
In parts of three seasons as an Oriole, Pie batted .259 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs in 704 at-bats. He had a .303 on-base percentage, a .391 slugging percentage and stole nine bases in 16 attempts.
His defense ranged from spectacular to downright unwatchable, and his base running was confounding for someone blessed with his speed.
"I have been wondering for the longest [time] who is going to play every day in the outfield, left field, especially. And I wanted to see him play every day. And I think the best opportunity for him now, and my first hope, is that somebody picks him up," Jones said. "He's a tremendous talent, and I think he can help out any ballclub, especially an NL ballclub, because he is a very talented player. But he needs to play. The thing is, I think everybody has seen in the last month, he's probably had like 20 at-bats. So he needs to go play somewhere."