Pie striving to find opposite field

Felix Pie got his first start since last Friday when he opened Thursday night's series finale against Pittsburgh in center field.

The main reason was that the Pirates sent right-hander Matt Morris to the mound, and Pie is a left-handed batter. If Pie is to stay in the lineup, he'll need to continue to do what he did off the bench in Wednesday night's 6-4, 15-inning victory.

Pie went the opposite way against lefty Phil Dumatrait and stroked a two-run single to left field to drive home the go-ahead runs in the 15th. Hitting the other way is something manager Lou Piniella has stressed over and over to Pie.

"It makes me more quick, hitting the ball to left field," Pie said. "I stayed back and hit it to left. When I went to home plate, I made that adjustment."

Piniella, who has experience as a hitting coach, says it takes some players longer than others to understand the importance of seeing the ball and going to the opposite field.

"The ones who get it quickest are the ones who have the most success," he said. "It wouldn't be a bad idea for the young minor league prospects where they're forced to go to the opposite field at least once a game whether they like it or not. It teaches them how to hit. It teaches them to stay on pitches."

Pie was called out on strikes twice Thursday and was taken out in a double switch.

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