Pete Orr read the papers in the offseason. He knew the signing of free agent infielder Chris Woodward was not a good sign for him and his chances of remaining on the Atlanta roster.
“It was a long winter,” Orr admitted Saturday. “I’m not naïve to what was going on. Anytime you feel like you’re on the outside of things, it’s tough. You can’t do anything about it. The Braves are just trying to win, and you’ve just got to hope to be in their plans.”
For now, Orr is in the Braves’ plans. Willy Aybar’s wrist problems paved the way for Orr to be on his third straight Opening Day roster. Everyone knew Aybar was the favorite since he is out of minor league options and Orr has one remaining. The Braves do not want to lose Aybar, so that gave him an advantage in the race before the injury gave Orr the job.
“You say that and then there will be a situation where a team will keep you cause you do have options,” Orr said. “I think I’m old enough now to understand how things work. Nothing’s personal. The goal is to win a World Series. Sometimes you have to take a step back to realize what the big picture is. If you’re able to do that, it’s a lot easier to understand.”
Orr did everything he could to make the decision difficult for the Braves. He hit .342 this spring in 38 at bats. But if Aybar had been healthy, he would have gotten the nod with Orr going down to Richmond.
”As soon as spring training started the first week everybody looked around and talked about how good Richmond is going to be,” Orr said. “You can go through the pitchers and the position players. I’ll pick them to win.”
But Orr hopes to postpone that trip as long as possible. One man that has always been in Orr’s corner is Braves’ Manager Bobby Cox, who repeatedly talks about how he appreciates Orr’s approach to the game. Orr hopes he can play for Cox for the rest of this season.
“Bobby’s such a great man because he has confidence in his players,” Orr said. “He can make you feel good. You might not be going so good, but he’ll make a comment to make you feel better and try to get you going. It’s been such an honor to play for him for the last two years, and hopefully I’ll continue to do so.”
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, 105.5 the Fan in Macon, and the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.