BALTIMORE—It’s still early for Brandon Hyde as manager of the Orioles. Last week, he finalized his coaching staff, and earlier in the month spent a few days with 18 players at a minicamp in Sarasota, Fla.
On Friday night, he met with the members of the team that gathered for FanFest, and on Saturday sat for two question-and-answer sessions with fans at the Baltimore Convention Center.
As the manager for just six weeks, he acknowledges that he doesn’t know his new team as well as he will.
“Put faces to the video that I’ve been watching,” Hyde said. “It’s been a real get-to-know process … The most important thing for me is to get to know them as people first. The way you coach impactfully is by having a relationship first. If there’s no relationship, that’s a lot harder.”
Since he was appointed manager, Hyde said he’s called as many players as he could. He mixed coaches he knew, catching coordinator Tim Cossins and third base coach Jose Flores, with a pitching coach known by general manager Mike Elias, Doug Brocail, along with coaches already in the Orioles’ organization.
He knew his hitting coach, Don Long, from his days with the Chicago Cubs. Long was the Cincinnati Reds’ hitting coach for the last five seasons.
When spring training begins on Feb. 12, Hyde will begin to construct a team. Currently, 58 players are scheduled to report.
“I know their stats, and I know where guys played last year and I’ve watched guys on video, and I’ve seen some play in the past,” Hyde said.
The Cubs last played the Orioles in July 2017, and the team is markedly different.
“I don’t know the players that well,” Hyde said. “That’s what the next two months is going to be, getting to know them as well as we can, make really good decisions with Mike, understanding that this is a development deal and we’re going to put guys in positions to have success, so I feel good about that. But right now, if you asked me to pick 25, I’d be lying to you if I said that I nailed that down. I think that’s what the next two months are for.”
When Hyde was with Chicago, there were few open spots on the Cubs.
“This is different,” Hyde said. “This is more how it was in ’12 and ’13 and ’14, where there’s a lot of young, interesting guys that you can’t wait to start developing. And whether they’re ready to make the big league team or not, I can’t tell you right now.
“I think it’s a great situation for a lot of guys. There’s obviously innings on the mound, and there’s [at-bats] to be had. To have the opportunity to win a job, I think as a player, I think that’s what you want.”
Hyde’s spring training will be fascinating since it’s a total unknown.
“Competing matters to me, watching them compete, watching them prepare,” Hyde said. “It’s a clean slate for me.”
He hasn’t laid out specifics, but he has lots of ideas.
“I know our shortcomings from last year,” he said. “We’re going to dive into fundamentals. I believe in simple. I believe in being the best baserunning team in the league. I believe in catching the baseball.”
Hyde wants to be realistic, too.
‘It’s going to be workmanlike. It’s going to be positive. We’re going to have some adversity, but that’s part of development, also.”