Outfielder Felix Pie is supposed to start playing in the Dominican next month.
Asked whether he foresees Pie getting the bulk of the playing time in left field next season, with Nolan Reimold serving as the designated hitter, manager Dave Trembley hesitated before replying:
“I think it’s a nice thing to be able to sort out, especially the way Pie played the second half of the season. I know there’s a lot of interest in Pie. You’ve got to like what Reimold did. You’ve still got Luke Scott. I think as we get toward spring training, it will all sort itself out.”
Trembley also talked about the possibility of filling the need for a big bat in the lineup.
“I think the preference would be a right-handed hitter and we’re confident that we’re going to be able to do that,” he said. “There’s a lot of names out there and I’m sure there are a lot of teams that have similar interests that we do. The arbitration thing is tonight at midnight and we’ll see what happens there, and there’s the non-tender date on the 12th, so we’ll see what happens after that. Then you have free agents and trade possibilities. So there’s a whole lot of scenarios.”
By “arbitration thing,” Trembley was referring to the midnight deadline for players to accept it. For example, Braves reliever Rafael Soriano is rumored to be leaning toward accepting, which would remove him from consideration as a closer. If he declines, he’ll cost a draft pick from the team that signs him.
Trembley said he’s more optimistic about his club now than last winter.
“With the amount of young guys that got the experience that they got last year, and knowing what their makeup is, I would think we’re really a lot further ahead than we were last year, as far as individual progress,” he said. “I think what we need to do now is take the individual progress and turn it into a collective team progress.”
Asked whether Jim Johnson will return to a set-up role, Trembley said, “I think that is dependent upon us getting a closer. I think you have to get a closer in order to put Johnson back in that role. If you don’t get a closer, now you come into spring training kind of unsettled again and you might have to take a look at J.J. there. Might have to take a look at what Chris Ray does. But if you go out and get a closer, you can line up the back of your bullpen.”
Is Koji Uehara a possibility for closer?
(long pause) “To be honest, I don’t know what to say about Koji,” Trembley said. “I think you’ve got to see Koji come into spring training and see if he’s healthy. You’ve got to get him into spring training and see if he’s healthy and then decide what’s best for him and where he fits in with the team. And it’s hard for me to say right now because he ended the season hurt.”
Trembley said he hasn’t received any medical reports on Uehara. As I wrote yesterday, Uehara has started playing catch back home in Japan after being cleared by doctors.
I asked Trembley whether he’s concerned that the club’s failure to make an impact move this winter could be a hard sell for a disgruntled fan base.
“I think we have so many good, young players that have come up through the Orioles’ system that the fan base has identified with those guys and they know there are more of those guys on the way,” he said. “But I do think Andy’s gone on record as saying we’re going to do what we can to acquire a piece or two until some of those other guys are ready. I think it’s going to take care of itself. It just might happen a little bit later. It might not happen this week.”
More to come. And click here for my interview with Trembley that took place after his media session.