Haiti quake hits home for O's Pie


His relatives there said to be OK

O's eyeing Crede, Blalock?

January 15, 2010|By Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec | Baltimore Sun reporters

Orioles outfielder Felix Pie said he immediately felt a deep sadness when he heard about Tuesday's catastrophic earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

His emotions quickly turned to worry for his extended family, many of whom live in the Caribbean nation that is considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

"It's very sad, and you start, like, worrying. I know my mom has family in Haiti and my pop, too," Pie said. "But my mom called me and told me not to worry, that my family over there is OK. And my pop called me to tell me the same thing."

Pie said he was born in the Dominican Republic, but his mother, Hidalia Dofen, and his father, Alme Pie, were both born and raised in Haiti. The couple moved to the Dominican Republic before Pie was born, "for a better life."

Their families, including some of Pie's aunts, uncles and cousins, still live in Haiti, but far enough away from the nation's capital that they weren't affected by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which might have killed as many as 50,000.

"I am really sad because I saw the newspaper today, and that is terrible," he said.

Pie said he had no immediate plans to assist in a relief effort, but his mother has talked about collecting clothes and other essentials for the Haitians. Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it would donate $1 million to the earthquake victims, something that pleased Pie.

"I think that is a very good thing because Haiti doesn't have a lot of support," he said. "Everybody needs support there."

Pie left the Dominican on Sunday to get treatment on his left leg at the Orioles' facility in Sarasota, Fla., where he'll be remain until spring training begins.

Pie, who hit .266 with nine home runs in 101 games in 2009, strained his quadriceps in September and missed the team's final nine contests. It's still a little sore, he said, and he has yet to run hard on it this winter. He expects to start running Tuesday.

"It's much better,' he said. "It'll get better by spring training."

The hot corners
With roughly a month left before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Orioles still have a potential vacancy in their corner infield. Meanwhile, agent Scott Boras has two clients, Hank Blalock and Joe Crede, who play first and third base, respectively.

"They are fits for Baltimore," Boras said. "It just really depends on whether they want a first or a third baseman."

Boras said he has had continuing discussions with Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail throughout the winter - which included the signing of Boras' client Mike Gonzalez last month. They spoke last week, though Boras wouldn't reveal specifics. MacPhail, who is in Phoenix at the owners' meetings this week, has not responded to interview requests the past two days.

Blalock, 29, hit 25 homers in 462 at-bats for the Texas Rangers last season. He appeared in just 123 games combined in 2007 and 2008 because of various injuries and shoulder surgery. He could still play third in an emergency but now considers himself a first baseman, Boras said.

MacPhail has indicated he would prefer to have newly signed Garrett Atkins play first base, so the Orioles are likely more interested in Crede.

A one-time All-Star, Crede, 31, is a solid defender who batted .225 with 15 homers for the Minnesota Twins in 2009. But he has been hindered by injuries and hasn't played in more than 100 games since 2006.

"Crede's talent is fine. It's a matter of him illustrating that the nerve issue in his back is solved and he can play a full season," Boras said.

He'll be looking for a "make-good kind of contract," a one-year deal that could be parlayed into something more lucrative next offseason. That could work for the Orioles, who need a placeholder until prospect Josh Bell is deemed major league-ready.

Deal under fire
Orioles officials are not commenting on a recent lawsuit filed by two taxpayer watchdog groups that alleges that Sarasota public officials violated the state's open-meetings laws in negotiating the deal to build a $31 million spring training home for the organization at Ed Smith Stadium.

The nonprofit organizations - Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Sunshine - have filed suit against the city and Sarasota County but not the Orioles.

The lawsuit made the bonds that were supposed to help fund construction of the stadium unmarketable. If not settled or resolved soon, the lawsuit could threaten the construction of the stadium, which is supposed to begin after the Orioles' spring training camp concludes. The hope was that the project would be completed by the time the Orioles report for 2011 spring training.

FanFest set
More than 60 former, current and future Orioles players and coaches will participate in the team's 2010 FanFest on Jan. 23 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The event, held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature autograph signings, question-and-answer forums, clinics and interactive games.

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