Freel hoping for more playing time
Injured O's outfielder discusses role, handling of injury
BALTIMORE -- Ryan Freel sounded off on a variety of topics Tuesday, indicating that he was unhappy with the way he was treated by Baltimore's medical team and dissatisfied with his role in the organization. Freel, who's currently on the disabled list, stopped short of saying whether he's requested a trade.
"I still believe in change. I don't think I fit here," Freel said. "I don't think I fit in probably what they wanted me to be here in this organization. I can't control whatever they do at this point. I know it's really putting a damper on my career, really hurting my career as far as getting a job next year. I'm pretty much just rolling with the punches."
The veteran staged a private meeting with Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to air some gripes on multiple subjects. Freel was specifically upset that he traveled to Class A Delmarva for a rehabilitation game but was told on arrival that he'd have to pass "an impact test" before he'd be cleared to play.
Freel, who's denied multiple times that he ever lost consciousness after being hit by an errant pickoff throw against the Red Sox, said Tuesday that he was unprepared to take the test and miffed at the result.
"The impact test is just a post-concussion test I have taken numerous times," Freel said. "I went out there and took batting practice and was getting ready to play in the game, and the doctor said, 'We don't like your impact test results. Pretty much, we're going to scratch you.' I didn't bite my tongue in talking to the doctor, but I got my point across. ... We've got good chemistry on this team and I'm not going to sit here and try to bring the clubhouse down and the organization down. But I'm not very happy at all with what happened."
Surprisingly, MacPhail didn't begrudge Freel that opinion. In fact, he agreed with Freel wholeheartedly, saying that the medical staff should've examined him before sending him on the rehab assignment.
"We should've done better. I don't blame him for feeling blindsided. We should've had the test done here as opposed to done there," said MacPhail. "When they felt the results of the test dictated a couple more days and taking at-bats away from his rehab assignment, he was not pleased about that, which again I'm in full sympathy with. But it's one of those injuries that we're going to err on the conservative side for everybody's benefit."
And in the larger picture, MacPhail was empathetic once again. The executive said that Freel hasn't lodged a formal trade request and said that the Orioles would attempt to find him more playing time as soon as possible.
"He's got a right to feel that way too, because since we acquired him we've acquired Felix Pie and Ty Wiggington," said MacPhail. "So some of the at-bats that we saw right in the beginning have probably dried up for him. It never bothers me in the slightest when a guy wants to play. I think it's a good thing. Why should anybody be happy if they're not playing? ... We're going to try to get him back where he's 100 percent, can get some at-bats and can show us he should play more. I think he's looking forward to that part of the challenge."
Freel, who was acquired from the Reds as part of a three-player package in exchange for catcher Ramon Hernandez, said that he was initially excited to be part of the Orioles. And he said that he tried to deal with the twin presence of Pie and Wigginton but hasn't been able to carve out his own role on the roster.
"I was thrilled to death to be coming over here," Freel said. "I know they signed Pie and Wigginton and I know that considering my Spring Training and how things turned out it really hurt me and my playing time, but I am definitely not as happy as I was when I first came here. I am not going to sit here and lie to you guys."
Now, the plan for Freel is to let him play for Double-A Bowie over the weekend and hope that he's ready to return to action by May 6, which is the earliest possible date he can be activated. But if Freel has his way -- and he didn't make much of an effort to veil his views Tuesday -- he may be plying his trade elsewhere.
"That's what they want -- me going to Bowie and coming off the DL when I am supposed to," Freel said. "But again, I don't believe anything unless it's in black and white. I've been around the game long enough, so there's not really anything expected in this game -- as far as baseball or probably any sport -- until you actually see it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.