Orioles’ Pie to be sidelined for at least three months

Outfielder tore back muscle from bone

Roberts weeks away from return

April 20, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE — — The continued development of Orioles outfielder Felix Pie had been one of the few positives from the first couple of weeks of the season. But the Orioles will now have to wait at least three months before they see him play again.

A magnetic resonance imaging taken Monday, followed by a subsequent doctor's visit, revealed that Pie had torn the latissimus dorsi muscle away from the bone in his back. The injury won't require surgery, but it will keep Pie, whose injury was initially classified as a strained muscle in his upper back, out until at least late July.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail acknowledged that the severity of the injury came as a surprise because Pie had mostly played through it for a couple of weeks.

"It is the one area where we felt like we had depth, but it's disappointing for the kid and disappointing for us," said MacPhail, who said that he has no plans to add another outfielder. "This is the same injury Jim Miller had when he pitched for us in 2008. They tell me [that] over time, it's going to take care of itself. The returns are pretty good, but it just requires time."

Pie, a 25-year-old whom the Orioles acquired from the Chicago Cubs before last season and the Opening Day starter in left field this year, was hitting .400 with one homer and one RBI in eight games before he went on the disabled list April 16. He'll now report to the team's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., to start a rehabilitation program.

"Terrible loss," manager Dave Trembley said. "I think it tells you something about Pie's pain tolerance because the information that we got today was that he felt he did it in the Opening Day game at Tampa when he made that throw to get the guy out at the plate. And he's been dealing with that ever since."

Lou Montanez started in left field for the second straight day, but Trembley said he'll continue to mix and match with Montanez, Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold in left field in Pie's absence.

Roberts also not close

Second baseman Brian Roberts (herniated disk) saw back specialist Dr. Lee Riley for the second time in a four-day span, but he still wasn't cleared to begin baseball activities, and he remains at least a couple of weeks away from returning.

"I think things are progressing as they had hoped," MacPhail said. "We're probably a week or so away from [baseball activities], in the best case. I think we're talking about a matter of weeks and not days, that's for sure."

In other injury news, third baseman Miguel Tejada (strained hip adductor) was held out of the lineup for a second straight day, but Trembley is optimistic that he'll be ready to play by Wednesday's series finale. Tejada played catch before the game and told Trembley that he was available to pinch hit.

"Today, I'm feeling almost normal, and the trainer is going to take a little time to look at me and see how it goes," Tejada said.

Reliever Koji Uehara (left hamstring strain) threw a 35-pitch simulated game in Sarasota, but his return doesn't appear imminent. Trembley said that the pitcher will likely do a rehab assignment, possibly at Double-A Bowie, before he's activated.

Scott on hot corner

Wanting to get Garrett Atkins a night off and needing Ty Wigginton to play third for the injured Tejada, Trembley gave Luke Scott his first start of the season at first base. Scott played first in 10 games last year, along with a handful of times this spring.

"It's a fun position," said Scott, who has been taking ground balls at first during pre-game workouts. "It's not as easy as people think. The ball gets on you quick. There's a lot that goes on there, but it's fun."

Tillman struggling

Chris Tillman, who started the spring as the front-runner for the fifth starter's spot before being beaten out by David Hernandez, is 0-3 with an 8.38 ERA in his first three starts for Triple-A Norfolk. The 22-year-old has allowed 17 hits and walked four in 9 2/3 innings, and in his last start Sunday, he surrendered four earned runs in just one inning.

Both Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Alan Dunn called Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin on Monday to inquire about Tillman's issues, which are not injury-related.

"I hope he gets it straightened out," Trembley said. "He's got a big upside for us and is someone we're counting on, but he didn't pitch well [Sunday] night."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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