BALTIMORE–A day after the Orioles designated him for
assignment, Garrett Atkins was dealing with a mix of emotions.
“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 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. He also declined the notion of retirement
and was hopeful he could regain the power bat that has been missing for
arguably the last two seasons.
“It was frustrating,”
said Atkins, who hit .214 with one homer and nine RBIs in 140 at-bats as an
Oriole. “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
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 their 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 press 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