Manager Clint Hurdle met with Atkins twice on Sunday to discuss where the infielder stood on the depth chart this spring and Atkins made the decision that it would be best to leave camp now.
"He came here to make the club and is a very honest self-evaluator," Hurdle said. "He saw people ahead of him and knew that there wouldn't be an opportunity for him at Triple-A. The window of opportunity was closing. He didn't want to take at-bats from the guys still wanting to make the club and wanting to get ready for the season. Good for him."
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Atkins now has the chance to try and latch on with another club if he wants to continue playing.
"I think [Atkins is] working through [his] options at this point in time," general manager Neal Huntington said. "I think part of him thinks there is still something to offer. Part of him wants to kind of evaluate the big picture. But it does still sound like there is an interest in continuing to play."
With four players vying to become the Pirates' corner utility infielder, the club had to begin whittling down its options. Atkins was the first in the group to be cut; Josh Fields, Andy Marte and Steve Pearce remain in the mix.
Atkins had just four hits in 31 at-bats this spring and just one in his past 22 chances. He spent much of last summer out of baseball after being released by the Orioles in early July. In 44 games with Baltimore, Atkins batted just .214.