BALTIMORE—Brandon Hyde remembers his first professional trip to Baltimore well. On June 23, 2010, when he was working as the Florida Marlins’ minor league infield coordinator, he received a 6 a.m. wakeup call, telling him to pack his bags and head to Baltimore, where the Marlins were in the midst of a three-game series against the Orioles.
Upon landing, he found out that manager Fredi Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley had been fired, and Hyde had been named bench coach.
Coincidentally, Presley’s next job was as Orioles hitting coach under Buck Showalter, and Tosca has managed in the Gulf Coast League for the past two seasons. Hyde was disturbed because they were his friends. Another man he admired, Edwin Rodriguez, had been named Marlins manager.
“My intro to the big leagues was getting off the plane and all of sudden you’re a big league bench coach with a manager that had never been a big league manager,” Hyde said.
The trip he took last weekend was much better planned, and now Hyde begins the challenge of trying to turn around the Orioles after a 115-loss season.
“There’s a lot of adjectives that will go into the type of team I would like,” Hyde said. “I think you’re always going to manage to your team and what the roster consists of whether it’s going to be a bunch of power guys or some speed guys. I’d like to have a balance of both.”
Hyde and general manager Mike Elias both participated in impressive turnarounds — Hyde with the Chicago Cubs, and Elias with the Houston Astros.
Although that didn’t seem important at first to Elias and Sig Mejdal, his assistant GM and chief analytics aide, it feels right now.
“It wasn’t a consideration as we entered the process,” Elias said. “Once we talked to Brandon, it made me feel really good that he understood the scope of this, and he’s been through it in the same way Sig and I have, and to have that experience and that shared perspective is an asset.”
Elias reportedly interviewed five other candidates for the job. Three had significant managerial experience: Manny Acta, Chip Hale and Mike Redmond, who managed for a combined 11 seasons—without a winning record.
“I think it speaks to how impressed we were with Brandon,” Elias said of the lack of managerial experience. “Still, he beat out very good candidates that did. I was a little bit attracted to experience because I’m a first-year GM, and we have a lot to do all around the organization.”
Once a coaching staff is hired, Hyde will begin to get to know the Orioles, who not only set a franchise record for losses but used 56 players, more than any other team in franchise history.
“I want an aggressive team that knows how to play smart, smart baseball,” Hyde said. “Aggressive in the right moments, grind out at-bat-type of attitude.
“Mike and Sig’s job is going to be to get as much talent in here as possible, and my job is going to be to develop it in the big leagues, and however long it takes.”
Elias and Mejdal worked together in St. Louis and Houston, and Hyde likes their past.
“There are similarities between the Cubs and the Astros,” Hyde said. “I want to believe there are going to be similarities here. Those guys have been through it before. That’s what really attracted me.”
Hyde worked in the National Leauge Central, which includes the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, who made it to the seventh game of the NLCS. Now, he steps over to compete with the Boston Red Sox, who finished an unfathomable 61 games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East.
“I want our players to focus on competing,” Hyde said. “To getting better every single day, to being a great teammate, to being held accountable, to hold others accountable.”
Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, who had the second-longest tenure in Orioles managerial history.
“I have so much respect for Buck Showalter,” Hyde said. “As a young coach, that was somebody I looked to on TV … When he was on ESPN, I’d always listen to him.”
Hyde is the 20th manager in team history, and he seems eager to learn about what came before him.
“I’m going to be me, but I definitely have a ton of respect for who’s been in that chair for the last eight or nine years,” Hyde said.
The losing season hurt Showalter badly, and Hyde is aware that another difficult season might be coming up.
“We’re going to be patient,” he said. “We’re going to be positive … No promises made, except that we’re going to play really, really hard. We’re going to play to win every single night.”
Hyde is eager to manage in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. He knows that spring training is less than two months away.
“I’m looking forward to putting our staff together, get to know our players, get down to Sarasota and ready to go compete in the American League East,” Hyde said. “It’s not daunting. It’s more like I’m excited to start.”