Pie Getting His Swagger Back

Felix Pie (PHOTO/LARRY WOOLIS)

Class AAA Iowa outfielder Felix Pie has dealt with a poor start and subsequent demotion to the minor leagues, plus a swing alteration and a hand injury this season.

But the 23-year-old Pie has heated up in July, going 24-for-71 (.338) after batting just .181 in May between Chicago and Iowa.

Pie began the season in Chicago, but was sent to Iowa on May 16 when the Cubs signed outfielder Jim Edmonds. Pie went on the disabled list on June 24 with a "sprained left thumb," but has hit safely in 13 of 15 starts since his return on July 1.

"Felix has finally calmed down a little bit," Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua said of Pie's recent surge. "He has finally got a little consistency in his approach at the plate. Before, they wanted him to kind of lift his leg and he was getting caught in there. Now he is moving his foot and kind of lifting it, (just) not as high. So he has more control of his balance now.

Joshua added: "He has been fighting a bad hand. Without (that), I think he'd be swinging real well. But he is starting to hit the ball good, and he is getting his confidence back and his little swagger back."

The hand injury occurred on June 21 at Albuquerque.

"I think he just got jammed. With Felix and his left hand, he has a tendency to let that left hand go off the bat," Joshua said. "And sometimes when you make contact and your hand is not really tight on that bat, it jars that. That's how a lot of guys get bone bruises; they don't have the bat as firmly in their hands as they should.

"He had a good (bruise), and then that guy [Eulogio] De La Cruz from Albuquerque threw him a pitch inside and really, really hurt it again and really pushed it back. But he's fighting through it and swinging the bat good with that bad hand."

Pie's 11-game hitting streak came to an end in a rain-shortened game this past Saturday, but it didn't stop him from enjoying the weather.

To the delight of the home crowd, Pie led an impromptu slip-and-slide session with teammate Andres Blanco during the delay.

The two were the first to emerge from the doors on the left-field walls of Principal Park and enjoy the torrential downpour. Several Nashville Sounds players, as well as other I-Cubs, later joined them.

Pie then mockingly played the part of Iowa manager and third-base coach Pat Listach, flailing his arm as Blanco rounded the bases on the tarp.

While Pie's focus remains in the present, Joshua said that he has advised the former Cubs top prospect to play winter ball later this year.

"I know the last couple years he hasn't played a full winter season," said Joshua. "But I think he should get down there and get a good 100 or so at-bats and really straighten all these little things out and make himself ready for the major leagues."

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