06/29/10 11:27 PM ET
Pie expects to rejoin O's on Friday
Outfielder working to return from upper back strain
By Brittany Ghiroli and Noah Rosenstein / MLB.com
"I feel good, no pain," Pie said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "Right now, the hardest thing is seeing pitches [at the plate]. But that will come with more and more [at-bats]."
Pie -- who moved his rehab to Double-A Bowie Tuesday night -- said the plan is for him to play nine innings in the field and continue to test his upper body strength. He did just that as he went 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored in Bowie's 6-5 win.
Pie has been sidelined with an upper back strain -- officially landing on the disabled list on April 16 -- and said he has been feeling good both in long toss and in making throws from the outfield. He played nine innings in left field on Sunday at Class A Advanced Frederick with no lingering soreness the next day.
Pie, who has played five games split between the Gulf Coast League and Frederick, is scheduled to play at Bowie on Tuesday and Wednesday, and according to interim manager Juan Samuel, he will be evaluated after that.
"We've got some other people keeping an eye on [Pie]," Samuel said. "If they feel he's anywhere close to joining us, we'll see how they evaluate him, to see if he's game ready."
Samuel wasn't sure if the team would opt to take a reliever or position player off the 25-man roster for Pie, but said that when the outfielder is activated he plans on using him.
"Obviously, [Corey] Patterson has done a good job," Samuel said of Patterson, the Orioles everyday left fielder in Pie and Nolan Reimold's absence. "But if Felix Pie is here and he's going to play left field, I'll probably have him lead off."
Pie is hitting .300 (6-for-20)with two RBIs and four runs scored in his first five rehab games. With his activation looming, Pie said he was "very excited" to get back to helping the big league club.
"I can't wait," Pie said. "I've been looking forward to it."
Gonzalez to pitch out of 'pen in Minors
BALTIMORE -- Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) threw out of the bullpen for short-season Aberdeen on Tuesday night, marking the first time Gonzalez has come out of the 'pen to pitch. He recorded two outs in the sixth inning of the Ironbirds' 10-8 loss, allowing an RBI double, though the run was not charged to him.
Gonzalez gave up a one-out, two-run homer in one inning of work on Sunday, facing five batters and allowing two hits. He got a pair of groundouts to end the inning and interim manager Juan Samuel said his velocity was in the 90-91 mph range.
As for the homer, Samuel said it came on a slider and it wasn't something he was "going to read into" too much. Gonzalez has said previously that his goal is to return -- with Felix Pie -- for Friday's series in Boston. Samuel wasn't sure of Gonzalez's schedule beyond Tuesday, but didn't rule out that option.
With Alfredo Simon acclimating to the closer's role -- converting nine saves in 10 chances -- and Gonzalez's lengthy absence on the 60-day disabled list, it's likely the Orioles will let Gonzalez ease back into the ninth-inning role.
"We are going to deal with that when he gets up here," said Samuel, who said that he wasn't feeling any pressure to throw Gonzalez back into saving games due to his two-year, $12 million salary.
"One thing in baseball, things always end up working out. As difficult as you see things, situations always have a way to work out. I'm not worried about that, I'm not feeling any pressure at all."
Patience at the plate paying off for Wieters
BALTIMORE -- During his current six-game hit streak, catcher Matt Wieters has shown signs that his success might be caused by more than just a hot bat.
Overall, Wieters is 8-for-19 (.421) with a double, a homer and eight RBIs during the streak. With six home runs and 26 RBIs on the year, it's been his most productive stretch of the season, more so than his season-long eight-game hitting streak in April. He hit .375 (12-for-32) with just four RBIs over that stretch.
More impressively, he has five walks compared to four strikeouts during his current streak, while he never walked but struck out five times during April's run. Prior to his streak, Wieters had gone 17 consecutive games without a walk -- save one intentional pass on June 1 against the Yankees.
"I think before I was being a little bit too aggressive before I actually saw the pitch. Now it's just seeing it and trying to hit it wherever the pitch is," Wieters said. "Instead of making up your mind before you go to the plate what you're going to try to do with it, just seeing it deep and trying to react to it."
In addition to improving his plate discipline, Wieters' success has come from working on shortening his stroke with hitting coach Terry Crowley.
"You've got to try to make your swing as short as possible at this level," he said. "It's something that you've got to put the work in and then just let it happen."
Wieters said he wasn't surprised or frustrated that he got a day off on Tuesday in the midst of his streak, which was expected given the rest schedule he's been on in recent weeks.
"I feel comfortable with the approach I've got going at the plate," he said. "I'm just trying to keep it going as long as I can."
Fox looks forward to facing A's
BALTIMORE -- Tuesday's series opener against Oakland wasn't just another game for Orioles utility man Jake Fox. Fox, who was designated for assignment by the A's on June 12, and later traded to Baltimore, acknowledged that he felt a little extra incentive facing the team that gave up on him.
"If I said [this series didn't mean more] I'd be lying to you," said Fox, who was in the O's starting lineup, but was scratched when the A's swapped lefty Dallas Braden (left elbow soreness) for right-hander Vin Mazzaro.
"Obviously I thought it was going to a be great opportunity going there, " Fox said of Oakland. "And you want it to work out in the worst way and it didn't. So, I think there's always a part of you that says, 'You missed out on a really good player you let go before you knew what I could do.'"
The 28-year-old Fox was batting .214 with a .264 on-base percentage through 106 plate appearances when he was designated, and he officially became an Oriole on June 22. Fox has gone 1-for-6 with a walk and a run scored since joining the O's and is expected to get more at-bats with Sunday's move to designate Garrett Atkins.
With Fox able to give an in-depth scouting report on his old team, the A's changed their signs several days ago.
"Had it not been done, we would have [done it again]," A's manager Bob Geren said of the sign switch. But it had already been done."
Davis excited to be People All-Star
BALTIMORE -- Casey Davis is thrilled to be going to the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but it's not because of the fun personal experience he expects to have.
Instead, the Orioles' representative in the 2010 "People All-Stars Among Us" campaign is most happy about the publicity his honor will garner for deafMD.org, a website he developed that provides information on important health-related topics for deaf people. The "All-Stars Among Us" campaign is a joint venture of MLB and People Magazine that recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways.
Davis, a Westminster native, is providing service to more than just the Baltimore community. His website features educational videos that use American Sign Language and is the first Internet resource that provides extensive health information for deaf people worldwide using ASL.
"Anytime we have the opportunity to bring attention to the needs of the deaf community, I don't care how it comes," said Davis, who developed deafMD after a graduate school professor challenged him to find a way to help an underserved community.
A lifelong Orioles fan, the 31-year-old has been to 18 of the past 19 Opening Day games. And despite his primary focus on the promotion of deafMD, he is definitely going to relish the personal opportunities his honor is providing. He was invited onto the field at Camden Yards for pregame festivities multiple times during the selection process, and will attend and be honored during the pregame ceremonies at the MLB All-Star Game in Anaheim on July 13.
"I won't lie, I'm a huge Orioles fan. So this means a lot to me as well," he said. "But to have my love of baseball be able to promote the needs of the deaf community, it's two goals at once."
Left-handed pitching prospect Zach Britton was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, the same day he was named Eastern League pitcher of the week. He will make his first start for the Tides on Thursday against Charlotte. Britton was 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 outings for Double-A Bowie, including marks of 5-0 and 0.96 in his past seven starts. ... Right-handed reliever Pat Egan was also promoted from Bowie to Norfolk on Monday. The 25-year-old, who was drafted in round 36 of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA and five saves for Bowie this year. ... Britton was one of four Baysox selected to the 2010 Eastern League All-Star game. The others are left fielder Tyler Henson, first baseman Joel Guzman and right-handed pitcher Pedro Beato. ... Class A Advanced Frederick first baseman Joe Mahoney was named Carolina League player of the week for June 21-27, when he hit .389 with two homers and seven RBIs in four games.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com and Noah Rosenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.