Atkins not interested in playing for Norfolk

First baseman was designated for assignment by Orioles on Sunday

June 28, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Garrett Atkins boarded a plane and headed home to California on Monday with an uncertain future but no hard feelings toward the Orioles, who designated the first baseman for assignment Sunday after an unproductive 2 1/2 months with the club.

"Obviously, I had opportunities early to get things going on the right track, and it didn't happen and the team was losing," said Atkins, who was hitting just .214 with one homer and nine RBIs in 44 games. "First base is a position where you'd like to see get some offense, and I wasn't doing it when I was out there. I can understand why they made the decision to play other people. You can't really fault the team for doing that. It was just frustrating on my part, and I'm sure on their part as well, that I wasn't able to get some things going."

The Orioles, who needed to make roster room to activate reliever Koji Uehara, have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on Atkins. It's extremely unlikely that another team will claim him off waivers because any team that did would have to assume the rest of his salary for the 2010 season. The Orioles gave him a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December.

Atkins, 30, said he has no interest in going to the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, but he didn't rule out reporting to a minor league affiliate of another organization.

"We'll see what happens when the process is done and what opportunities are out there," he said. "I think it will definitely depend on the team or the situation whether I'll do something like that."

Atkins said he was not surprised when he was summoned to interim manager Juan Samuel's office Sunday and told by president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail that the club would designate him for assignment. The move had been speculated for several weeks, and Atkins had just 14 at-bats in 24 June games.

"Obviously, you kind of think it's coming with [Felix] Pie coming off the DL soon," Atkins said. "You knew there was going to be a move made. You knew it was probably going to be me at some point, especially after they got [Jake] Fox. I think they decided there was no sense in having us both here.

"There wasn't really any at-bats here for me, and when I was getting them, I wasn't very productive. I think [the decision] was better for both ends. Just move along. Let's see if there is a spot out there for me on another team. Â Andy has been nothing but nice from the beginning. There's nothing negative to say how they handled it. I'll head back home and see if the phone rings and see if a new opportunity comes."

If it does, Atkins is going to have to prove that he resembles the player who averaged 25 homers and 110 RBIs for the Rockies from 2006 to 2008, and not the one who hit .226 with nine homers and 48 RBIs in 126 games for Colorado in 2009 and couldn't maintain a roster spot this year with the power-starved Orioles.

"I definitely think it's still in me," Atkins said. "Taking my [batting practice] and stuff the last month or so, it's been pretty good. I've been driving the ball well. I just haven't been able to transfer it over to the games. It just hasn't happened. It's been frustrating. Obviously, I'd like to get a collection of at-bats with the swing I have, and we'll see if that comes."

Notes: Former Orioles player and coach Rick Dempsey, now a Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcaster, will interview with MacPhail on Tuesday about the team's managerial job. Contrary to reports elsewhere, former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge has not had a second interview, though that will change this week. Wedge will interview in Baltimore on Wednesday or Thursday, and this time he will meet owner Peter Angelos. Â Double-A Bowie pitcher Zach Britton was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week after allowing just one run over eight innings Friday. Â Reliever Pat Egan was promoted from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk on Monday. Â Single-A Frederick first baseman Joe Mahoney was named the Carolina League Player of the Week after batting .389 with two homers and seven RBIs in four games last week. Â Westminster resident Casey Davis is the local winner of Major League Baseball and People magazine's All-Stars Among Us campaign, which recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways. Davis, who will be among 30 winners honored at the All-Star Game on July 13 in Anaheim, Calif., has been recognized for his work with DeafMD, an online service that provides health educational videos for the deaf. Â The Taylor Hooton foundation, an organization that works to raise awareness of steroid use among youths, will be at Camden Yards at 9:30 this morning as part of program aimed to educate youngsters about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and promote a healthy lifestyle. Several Orioles players are scheduled to participate.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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