06/28/10 1:42 PM ET
Frustration sets in as Atkins ponders future
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"It's frustrating, I didn't do what I was capable of doing, and when I got the chance I couldn't produce," Atkins said in a phone interview with MLB.com on Monday as he waited in the airport to fly back home.
"I'm just trying to get things straightened out, get back to California and go from there -- see how it plays out in the next two weeks."
Atkins was designated for assignment Sunday when the Orioles activated reliever Koji Uehara (strained forearm) from the 15-day disabled list. Baltimore has 10 days to trade, release or see if the first baseman passes through waivers, in which case Atkins could accept a Minor League assignment with the Orioles or entertain offers from other clubs.
Atkins said Monday if it was the right team and situation, he would "definitely be willing" to sign a Minor League deal elsewhere, but wasn't interested in returning to Baltimore in that scenario. He also declined the notion of retirement, and was hopeful he could regain the power bat that has been missing for the last year and a half.
"It was frustrating," said Atkins, who hit .214 with one homer and nine RBIs in 140 at-bats with the Orioles. "But you try to learn from it and move forward, and that's all you can do."
Atkins' ineffectiveness at the plate relegated him to a bench role, forcing the Orioles to trade for right-handed power bat Jake Fox on June 22. Atkins made just five starts in the Orioles past 28 games, going 0-for-3 -- including a double-play ball with the bases loaded -- in his last start on Friday. Given the high expectations and his guaranteed $4.5 million salary, Atkins was an easy target for Baltimore fans' ire as they watched the O's get off to a 2-16 start and languish in the American League East basement.
Atkins said he understood the disappointment and had no problem shouldering part of the blame for the O's punchless offense. Baltimore is the only team in the Major Leagues without a homer from its first baseman, with Atkins' lone blast occurring when he served as designated hitter.
"It's been frustrating, you feel like you can probably do a little bit more, and frustrating the team hasn't really played up to its ability," he said.
"I figured [being designated] was going to come soon ... and they decided to keep the extra arm. That's how it goes."
Given Atkins' salary, most interested teams will wait for him to clear waivers, to ensure that the Orioles will pick up the rest of the tab before taking a chance. Atkins told MLB.com on Friday that being released could be a blessing in disguise, calling it a "welcome opportunity" to get regular playing time and another chance elsewhere.
Recently released Rays designated hitter Pat Burrell has found a new home and regained his power stroke in San Francisco, and Atkins was hopeful he could find the same thing.
"Sometimes starting fresh somewhere, probably those things will help [his power potential]," interim manager Juan Samuel said in Sunday's news conference announcing the move.
"[Atkins is] a great guy. He was professional throughout this whole process, and understands why he wasn't playing. He was very quiet, didn't cause any issues in the clubhouse. He was just a veteran professional."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.