Trembley defends sending Atkins in opener
Manager has no regrets over call, despite not scoring
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Wednesday afternoon, manager Dave Trembley defended the decision to have Garrett Atkins running home on an infield grounder in Tuesday's loss, calling the play basic baseball.
It also ended up being one of several squandered opportunities by the Orioles to tack on any insurance runs. Baltimore was a dismal 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and the Rays eventually squeaked out a 4-3 walk-off win on Opening Day.
Atkins doubled -- his first hit in an Orioles uniform -- to open the ninth inning and advanced to third on a textbook bunt single from Cesar Izturis. After a visit to the mound for Rays reliever Rafael Soriano, Brian Roberts hit a ball to third baseman Evan Longoria, who let the ball hit his chest before gunning out a hustling Atkins at the plate.
"Would you rather have a 5-4-3 double play or would you rather have first and second, one out, with the guy batting in the two hole and the guy batting in the three hole coming up?" Trembley said. "Juan Samuel is the third-base coach and a very good one. The play was done correctly.
"What made it not look so good was Longoria booted it. But you don't know that. You're going on the ground. You're reading contact down. You're not going as soon as the ball is hit. You're going contact down. You see a ground ball, you go."
Trembley acknowledged it would have been better if Longoria had fielded Roberts' ball cleanly, setting up a double play. In that scenario, the Orioles -- up 3-2 entering the ninth -- would have scored and taken a two-run lead.
Setup man Johnson unable to pitch in loss
ST. PETERSBURG -- Following the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Rays on Wednesday -- Baltimore's second straight one-run defeat -- manager Dave Trembley admitted that the matchups were there even if parts of his bullpen were not.
With one out in the eighth inning and the Orioles trailing by a run, manager Dave Trembley lifted lefty specialist Will Ohman in favor of sidearming righty Cla Meredith to face cleanup hitter Evan Longoria.
"Maybe [setup man Jim] Johnson is in the game there if Johnson is available to pitch," Trembley said. "Johnson wasn't available to pitch [Wednesday]. His arm was tight he told me before the game."
Longoria, who had previously smacked a two-run double in the left-center-field gap, sent Meredith's second offering over the fence for a solo homer. That run proved to be the difference in Wednesday's game.
"Meredith is a sinkerball guy, he gets the ball up," Trembley said. "You don't have Johnson [available Wednesday night.]
"So, the matchups were there."
Following the game, Johnson told reporters who asked about his arm that he was fine. The right-hander tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday's loss.
Pie out with pain in left shoulder
ST. PETERSBURG -- Orioles left fielder Felix Pie was held out of Wednesday's lineup after he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder while throwing home in the fifth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Tropicana Field.
"I'm not too worried about it because [Wednesday] I'm already feeling better than I did [Tuesday night]," said Pie, who stayed in the game and went 1-for-4 with a double.
Manger Dave Trembley described Pie's injury as a "little rotator cuff strain" and said he will take it day-by-day.
"Let's hope for the best and get him back in there because he brings energy and excitement to the club," Trembley said. "And I like him in the lineup."
In Pie's place is Nolan Reimold, who wasn't expected to play on the Rays' artificial turf until Thursday's finale. Reimold has been slowed this spring by left Achilles surgery performed in September, but after snapping an 0-for-22 skid on March 21, he managed to get his spring average up to .283. He hit two homers and collected six RBIs in spring's final two weeks, and has begun getting first-base work in an effort for Trembley to potentially get both Reimold and Pie's bats in the lineup.
"My job is difficult. I've got nine slots in the lineup and I've got 11 guys that would like to see themselves in the everyday lineup, and I can't do it," Trembley said. "So, I'm going to have to find at-bats as best I possibly can for those guys."
Trembley added that there is no competition between Pie and Reimold in left field; it's more of a balancing act as the two will likely platoon based on matchups and Reimold's health.
"Reimold was going to play the third game [against the Rays], so he gets to play one day earlier than he was scheduled to play," Trembley said. "I like the way he ran the last few days of camp. He's ready to go and he'll find himself in the lineup today. I can't tell you what we'll do [Thursday]."
Reimold, who found out he was in the lineup when he arrived Wednesday, said he didn't expect a problem running on the Rays' turf. He pointed that he played at Tropicana Field while batting the left Achilles problem last year, and the soreness he's currently experiencing is to be expected given the scope of his injury.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.