OAKLAND, Calif. — Continuing to lose key players almost as rapidly as they are losing games, the Orioles put outfielder Felix Pie, one of the team's few hot hitters and the leadoff man in Brian Roberts' absence, on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Lou Montanez from Triple-A Norfolk.
Pie, who suffered a strained left rotator cuff in spring training, aggravated the injury in Thursday's loss while swinging and missing at a pitch from Tyson Ross in the seventh inning. He'll return to Baltimore and have a magnetic resonance imaging Monday. For now, the team is calling his injury an upper-back muscle strain.
"I feel bad because it's the best start of my career that I've had and I have something like this set me back," Pie said through third base coach Juan Samuel, who interpreted. "I have faith in God that I can pick up where I left off. But it's disappointing the way the team is playing; they need me and I got off to the best start in my career, and now I have this setback."
Pie's injury is the latest blow to an offense that entered Friday with the second-worst run total (29) in the American League. Pie, the Opening Day starter in left field, was leading the team with a .400 average and had filled in admirably in the leadoff spot with Roberts on the disabled list.
His injury likely will mean more at-bats for second-year outfielder Nolan Reimold, who is still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. It also could force manager Dave Trembley to use his normal No.2 hitter Adam Jones regularly in the leadoff spot.
"Pie was putting up some good offensive numbers for us. The problem was I couldn't get him out there often enough," Trembley said. "This is an unfortunate situation. It is probably best for him that he goes back to Baltimore and we can get him taken care of … but it might be a while."
Trembley said that he wouldn't know how long Pie will be out until after the results of the MRI come back, but it wouldn't surprise him if it were longer than the 15days.
Pie is confident that the time off will do him some good.
"I feel like that the times I'm rested I've gotten better with exercises," he said. "When I'm on the field playing, it bothers me more when I throw. So if that's what it is, then rest will help me."
Montanez, an outfielder who has hit .247 in 194 big league at-bats over the past two seasons, was hitting .259 with five RBIs in seven games for the Tides.
List getting longer
The Orioles' disabled list now includes Pie, Roberts, closer Michael Gonzalez and setup man Koji Uehara.
Asked whether he felt the team was snake-bitten, Trembley said: "Maybe it's run its course. We certainly have had our share of misfortune, but honestly, we haven't helped ourselves either."
Jordan likes draft options
More than seven weeks before the Orioles make the third overall selection in the 2010 baseball draft, scouting director Joe Jordan said he feels good about the team's options but has yet to narrow the pool of candidates.
"There can be some surprises, but the names are going to be the names," Jordan said. "We're just scouting them every week until they keep playing. I'm not worried about the quality of player that's going to be there. We're going to get a very good player."
Jordan acknowledged that in a perfect world, the Orioles would select a power bat with the third pick, the highest they've drafted since choosing Ben McDonald with the first overall pick in 1989. However, beyond catching phenom Bryce Harper, who is expected to go first overall to the Washington Nationals, there are really no hitters who project as top-five picks.
"I think it's a good draft," Jordan said, "but I don't think it's one of the better ones top to bottom. I think next year's draft is going to be a lot better. I think it has more quality as far as first-round talent, and it's deeper.
Jordan obviously wouldn't tip his hand, but most draft pundits expect that the club will either decide between a shortstop — Christian Colon of Cal State Fullerton and Miami high schooler Manny Machado — or a pitcher.
Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands High School in Texas) and AJ Cole (Oviedo High School in Florida) are considered the top two high school arms available, while Anthony Ranaudo ( LSU), Matt Harvey (UNC), Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss), and Chris Sale (Florida Gulf Coast University) are the top available pitchers from the college ranks.