Brandon Hyde's first spring training game as Orioles manager goes well - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Brandon Hyde’s first spring training game as Orioles manager goes well

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer - USA Today Sports

SARASOTA, Fla.—Opening Day won’t come for another five weeks. But the spring training opener for Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was a success.

More than two hours before the Grapefruit League game began, Hyde dismissed the importance of the score. Still, he enjoyed the Orioles’ 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.

Hyde’s emphasis at this point is on the evaluation process. He has been a member of good teams that had poor records in spring training and awful teams that had fine spring training marks.

But in his first pregame media session, Hyde acknowledged: “I’m excited. I’ve got a little pregame buzz going. It’s pretty cool. I’m still kind of trying to find my routine a little bit.”

Hyde’s routine did not include bringing his first lineup card to home plate before the game. Hyde sent his lieutenant, Tim Cossins, who has not been officially designated as the bench coach.

“Now, I’m overseeing,” Hyde said. As the Chicago Cubs’ bench coach, he ran spring training, and he’s continued with many of those duties. He knows that has to change.

“I’m not used to delegating,” he said, laughing. “So now, as the manager, I’m delegating a lot of things, stepping back, inserting how I feel about certain things when I feel it’s necessary, delegating the best I can.”

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When starting pitcher Yefry Ramirez was nearing his pitch limit in the second inning, Hyde had Lucas Long, who was brought to the game from minor league camp just in case, warming up. Ramirez saved Hyde from his first in-inning pitching change by getting the third out.

Hyde’s first game featured a crowded dugout. Not only were most of the 60 players in camp on hand, but about 10 more minor league managers, coaches and instructors were jammed in.

“He was always on the front step of the dugout as you were coming in,” catcher Chance Sisco said. Sisco accounted for Hyde’s first runs as Orioles manager with a three-run home run in the first inning.

“Super-energetic, easy going right now,” Sisco said. “We’re just trying to have fun with it. I think everybody’s doing a good job with it.”

Hyde knew this wasn’t going to be like the regular season. After the game, he beamed, having thoroughly enjoyed it. Hyde noted that he had managed split-squad games before.

“It feels good,” Hyde said. “I’m pretty much used to a spring training game, what it feels like with the substitutions, making sure guys know who’s going in, the scripted pitching, all that stuff I’ve done before. It’s nothing new.

“To have a new group of guys I’m not familiar with was a good experience.”

Hyde acknowledged that he needs to improve his rhythm flashing signals to third base coach Jose Flores, and the shorthand chatter in the dugout.

“Those things are going iron themselves out throughout spring training,” he said.

With the talent largely the same from the team that lost a franchise-record 115 games a year ago, Hyde is trying to change the environment.

“I don’t know if I’m reinventing any style or anything like that,” Hyde said. “I’ve just been in a really winning environment for a while now, and I know what that feels like.”

The Cubs have been in the postseason for the past four years, winning the World Series in 2016. The Orioles haven’t won a postseason game since 2014, and it might take several years, at least, for them to return.

“It feels like a positive atmosphere,” Hyde said. “It feels like coaches that care, and it feels like players that care about each other. I wouldn’t say relaxed atmosphere. I think positive atmosphere.”

For Hyde, that positive atmosphere means teaching “without making them stay on the field too long where injuries can happen or resentment can happen.”

Hyde has organized team golf tournaments and barbecues. The bonding exercises are meant to be enjoyable and to build chemistry.

“I think any time you can get a group of guys together, it could be a situation outside the field where guys have fun with each other, hang out and do fun stuff, that’s part of a team,” Hyde said.

“We’ve done a few things where guys have enjoyed themselves and gotten to know each other a little bit more, see coaches in a different way, not just in uniform on the field…It will translate on the field if you’re caring about the guy next to you.”

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. BirdsCaps

    February 23, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I say the Birds should go all in and try to win the Grapefruit League (so they say they won something in ’19) and hopefully we’ll get the no. 1 pick again for finishing dead last in the regular season. Also, a grapefruit championship would generate some mild interest in the team.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      BirdsCaps, that’s an interesting scenario.

  2. Hallbe62

    February 23, 2019 at 11:29 pm

  3. Maka

    February 24, 2019 at 8:36 am

    I would like to see these young birds shock the baseball world and hold there own – maybe 65 wins. The first pick in baseball is different than football or basketball with tremendous uncertainty. Anywhere in the top 3 should net the O’s a promising prospect. Plus with new emphasis on international markets and analytics, there are more opportunities to find future major leaguers. I want to see O’s play fundamentally sound baseball and win as many games as possible. Losing 100+ games over a very long season is brutal to watch. Just saying…

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 24, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Maka, 65 wins means 97 losses. Any team with 90 or more losses is painful to watch.

  4. Maka

    February 24, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Rich – my real point is that playing for the no. 1 draft choice is a bad strategy (at least in my eyes) fraught with uncertainty. Let’s put our best foot forward and see where we end up. The O’s will be outmanned on many nights but sometimes the breaks go your way and you win by playing hard, fundamentally sound baseball. If they play the right way and lose, I can handle that better than playing like the bad news bears.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 24, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Maka, they already have the No. 1 draft pick for this year. They’re not going to intentionally lose to do it again, and this year will be about trying different players to see who can play. If two or three are discovered, the season may be a success.

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