O's name Felix Pie as starting left fielder

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Felix Pie.jpgIt’s been a tough day at the office for Orioles manager Dave Trembley. He already made one tough decision, picking David Hernandez over Chris Tillman for the final spot in his rotation, but he made another notable one later in the afternoon, naming Felix Pie as his Opening Day left fielder over Nolan Reimold.

Reimold is batting just .231 (9-for-39) with one home run and three RBI this spring while Pie is batting .393 (11-for-28) with two home runs, three RBI and two stolen bases. Trembley insists that the decision wasn’t about production, but only to protect Reimold, who is slowly working his way back from surgery on his left Achilles’ tendon.

“This is not a slight on (Nolan) Reimold, but this is the right thing
for Reimold. He’s not 100 percent. You think I’m going to go ask him to
bust his butt on turf?” Trembley said.

The Orioles are set to open their season against the Rays in Tropicana Field, so it appears he is taking the prudent approach.

For those worried about Reimold losing the grip on the job that was seemingly his, remember that Pie’s struggles in the first half last season are what brought Reimold to the majors in the first place. It’s possible that Pie could blossom into the star he was long ago hyped to be — and his second half last season at least hinted at that possibility — but I’m expecting the two outfielders to split playing time until Reimold is at full strength.
 

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.