SARASOTA, Fla.—The Orioles completed the first week of spring training with their first full-squad workout on Monday. Missing were infielder Alcides Escobar, who should arrive Tuesday, catcher Jesus Sucre and right-handed pitcher Gregory Infante, who remain in Venezuela dealing with visa issues and illness.
In five days, the Orioles will begin their Grapefruit League schedule.
Manager Brandon Hyde had the Orioles take living batting practice against contenders for the starting rotation: Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, David Hess and Nate Karns.
Hunter Harvey, who’s returning from injury and was scheduled for two rounds of batting practice like the others, threw one as a precaution.
“We’re going to be careful and try to do things right for Hunter Harvey,” Hyde said. “He’s going to pitch exhibition games when he’s ready.”
For a new manager and staff, the schedule is so condensed that they’ll have just a handful of days between the start of live batting practice and the start of the exhibition schedule.
“They’re such important days for the pitcher, for the hitter, for the hitter’s timing,” Hyde said. “But you’re ready for those days to be over after a few days of them and ready to start games.”
Hyde spoke with the team at length before the players took the field. He mentioned the standards he has and the expectations for the 2019 season.
“I feel they took the message well,” Hyde said. “I think guys were ready to get on the field. When you’re a competitor and you’re trying to win a big league job, that’s what it’s all about. They’ve been really respectful, and they’ve responded really well to it so far.”
In his first week as a major league manager, Hyde has some impressions of the team he inherited.
“I think we’re starting to get to know…I feel it’s a lot of guys that are hungry,” Hyde said. “I see a lot of energy. I like how the guys moved around today. There was a hop in everybody’s step. That’s kind of the message from us. They’ve taken it well.”
Hyde is beginning the process of evaluation, and it will be a lengthy one. He’ll have to choose starters, and if healthy, Karns will be a favorite for the fourth spot. Hess started much of last season, but Hyde acknowledged that he might favor a left-hander for the last starter.
A year ago, the Orioles didn’t have a left-handed starter until Josh Rogers started in late August.
“Ideally, you’d love to have a mix in the rotation,” Hyde said. “Where we’re at right now, I’m not sure how it’s going to line up. To have teams see both sides, that’s what you’d want in an ideal situation.”
Not only has Hyde never managed, he’s not familiar with the American League and its regular use of the designated hitter. As a result, he’s not sure whether he’d like to use a 12- or a 13-man pitching staff. A roster including 13 pitchers means just three bench players in the AL.
“That’s a great question,” Hyde said. “That’s something I was just thinking about last night. I’ve been in the National League for so long. That’s something I’m going to work out over the course of the spring.”
Hyde is looking forward to having the veteran Escobar in camp, which will heighten the competition for infield spots.
“Excited about the mix of middle infielders we have,” Hyde said. “It’s just a guy that’s been there that has nine-plus years playing defense in the middle of the field at the big league level. To add competition is always a good thing.”