Pirates Notebook: Why Felix Pie Joined the Bucs to Lead Off

Felix Pie Pittsburgh Pirates

Felix Pie will bring speed and some contact hitting to the Pirates, though not much else.

SAN DIEGO — No time for formalities. Why was outfielder Felix Pie called up Wednesday to join the Pirates’ roster?

“We felt he was our best available option,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “With Travis [Snider] being on the DL, Alex Presley and Andrew Lambo in limbo with the 10-day window, as we looked to try to re-balance with [Starling] Marte’s hand, we wanted to go with the best available outfielder.

“Felix would come up here, certainly play defense, good baserunner. He swung the bat very well in Spring Training, has swung it okay at various times this year. We felt like he was our best option” to give manager Clint Hurdle 25 players to win Wednesday’s road game against the Padres.

By The Numbers

Wednesday marks exactly two years to the day of Pie’s last Major League appearance, starting as left fielder for the Baltimore Orioles in Anaheim. Now Pie returns to a Southern California left field to start for the Pirates at San Diego’s Petco Park.

Over his first Major League stint from 2007 to 2011, Pie played all three outfield positions and hit .249 with a .289 on-base percentage and 77 OPS+. There was not much home-run power in Pie, as he averaged 56.7 at-bats per home run.

Pie (who will wear number 26) has hit .268 in his last two Triple-A seasons, carrying a .332 on-base percentage and 14 home runs in 760 plate appearances between Gwinnett (Braves’ Triple-A team) and Indianapolis.

So Pie’s offense has not been impressive, but he does bring speed and pretty good defense. He has stolen 54 bases and has been caught just 9 times over the last two years in the minors.

Leading Off

Felix Pie Indianapolis

Pie has hit .053 this year in Triple-A against left-handed pitchers (limited at-bats) but .290 with an .807 OPS vs. righties. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Pie’s speed and aggressiveness on the bases were the two biggest factors that put the new addition in Wednesday’s leadoff spot, though lefties have hit .242/.306/.427 vs. Kennedy since 2000 and righties have hit .237/.313/.394.

“He played so well for us in the spring, and it really took him a long time to get any traction going,” Hurdle said. “The kid’s full of effort. He’s full of energy. He’s got experience. He has been good defensively, good on the bases, and in the last month the swing has started to play better.”

Presley and Lambo were unavailable to be added just yet without someone from the active roster being placed on the 15-day disabled list, and Hurdle said with regards to Snider’s timetable: “We don’t feel like it’s anywhere close to what we need to get from him to deem him healthy.”

Starling Marte (right hand) and Jose Tabata (left knee tendinitis) are both out of Wednesday’s lineup, further pushing the need for an outfielder to return the Pirates to 13 position players. Tabata is available off the bench Wednesday, but it’s unclear if Marte will be.

“I want him to be able to throw with force and efficiency and be able to take a swing that’s got some aggression to it,” Hurdle said.

James Santelli

Author: James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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