Outfielder Felix Pie will be sidelined three to five days after undergoing surgery Monday to correct testicular torsion. Pie has been bothered by this all spring, and the Cubs had hoped to delay the procedure so they could use the off-day on March 17 as one of the days for him to heal.
However, Pie, 23, reported to the Cubs' facility on Monday with considerable soreness. If not corrected, he risked losing the testicle. The Cubs said late Monday that surgery was successful.
When camp began, Pie and Fuld were battling for the center-field job, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella lately has indicated Pie has the edge. Pie also has 28 at-bats compared to Fuld's 14. Now, Fuld, 26, has a chance to show what he can do with some regular playing time.
"Let's give him a chance," Piniella said. "This will be an opportunity for him to make some noise. It's amazing when you see these kids come to camp the first year -- how hard it is [for them] as opposed to having two or three Major League camps under your belt, knowing what to expect, being acclimated right away and being part of the routine.
"This is good experience for Sam, no matter what happens as far as his job on the team is concerned," Piniella said. "With Pie out now, he'll get a chance to play a little more and get some at-bats and show what he can do."
Fuld, who entered Monday's game batting .143, admitted he may have been pressing a bit.
"For the most part, I've felt pretty comfortable," Fuld said Monday. "I know the results haven't shown that. I think [the nerves] can't help but could be a small part of it. It's my first camp, and I know I've got a chance to do something here. I try to eliminate that and take everything one at-bat, one play at a time.
"In a lot of ways, it's uncontrollable," Fuld said. "For the most part, I feel comfortable, but I think nerves play a little part."
Fuld does have an edge in that he was called up in September, played in 14 games and does know several of the players on the roster.
"I think it'd be a different story if I didn't get called up," Fuld said. "But it's a different set of circumstances here than it was in September."
What will help Fuld now is the extra playing time. Plus, there are still three weeks of Cactus League games remaining.
"Sometimes, I have to take a step back and put things in perspective and realize whatever happens happens and things could be a lot worse," Fuld said. "I was in a completely different situation the last few years. Sometimes I have to look at the big picture here."
This isn't Pie's first big league camp, and he does have an edge in experience. Baseball is the same game in the Major Leagues, the Minors and the Arizona Fall League, where Fuld batted .402 to win MVP honors. But there are other factors to deal with -- like knowing if he plays well, he can win a spot on the Opening Day roster.
"Maybe just knowing the surroundings -- this is all new to me," Fuld said. "It can go both ways. A lot of times you're put in a new setting and you don't have time to think about things and it's all new to you and you just go out and enjoy yourself. It can be beneficial but it also can go the other way. There's really no telling how it will affect you."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less