When spring training gets under way for the Orioles on Tuesday, manager Brandon Hyde will have a roster of 66 players.
“It’s a big number,” Hyde said on Friday at the Birdland Caravan stop at the Greene Turtle in White Marsh. “I’m looking forward to the competition that we’re bringing into camp.”
At the Winter Meetings in San Diego in December, Hyde said he wanted at least eight candidates for the starting rotation. He has more than that.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of guys,” Hyde said. “Kind of where we are right now. I think the more guys we have competing for jobs, the better.”
Hyde might have to hold intrasquad games and perhaps “B” games with other teams to give players adequate work.
“I’m happy with the number we have,” he said. “I think the challenge in six or seven weeks is to get guys the amount of innings and at-bats. There’s ways you can be creative with that.”
For measurable improvement in 2020, the pitching must be better. Oriole starters had a 5.57 ERA, and relievers had a 5.79 mark during a 54-108 season.
“Last year, we had a ton of opportunity for guys, and we were looking for guys to step up, especially out of the bullpen,” Hyde said. “The majority of them pitched in all sorts of roles, different parts of the game. I hoped that they learned from that and take it into this next year.”
This is Hyde’s second year as a major league manager, and the organization is no longer a stranger.
“I think it’s a lot easier for me because I know everybody now,” Hyde said. “Familiarity is a big thing for me. Not walking in blind, not knowing many players. This year, I know most guys, so it’s a lot easier.
“I want guys to step up, and I want guys to learn from the experience they had last year. I talked to almost every single guy coming into camp. Everybody’s had a great offseason. I think guys are really driven. I think guys are going to play with a chip on their shoulder, and I just want guys to compete.”
Hyde looks at the large camp roster and sees chances for players to make an impact.
“I’m hoping that it creates guys seeing an opportunity,” Hyde said. “Everybody’s aware that it’s not like that in every camp. There’s multiple jobs to win. A lot more veteran teams, winning ballclubs that have had success in the past few years. There might be two spots available. It’s not going to be that way in our camp.
“I like the arms that we have, that we’re going to bring in. I just want guys to learn from past experiences and take the next step.”
Catcher Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, was on Friday’s caravan. It was the first time Hyde had really spent time with him.
Rutschman, who received an invitation to spring training and could be there until minor league camp opens on March 4, has already made an impression on Hyde.
“Everybody remembers their first major league camp,” Hyde said. “It’s going to great for him to have our major league coaches [Tim Cossins, Fredi González] and for him to be around some of our catchers that have been through it a little bit.
“He’s going to get a lot of experience out of that. It’s going to be a camp that he’s never going to forget. No matter what you’ve done, there’s something different about your first major league camp. We’re all excited to have him in camp. We’re excited for him to get this experience. I’m just looking to watch him play.”
Hyde said that he’s happy with the progress of starting pitcher Alex Cobb, who missed nearly all of last season after hip surgery.
“He feels good, looks good,” Hyde said. “Saw him a couple of weeks ago, and feels healthy and should be ready first day of camp.”
Rutschman ready: Rutschman is heading to Sarasota on Saturday, and he’ll use it as a learning experience.
“I think there’s a lot of new stuff that’s going to be coming our way,” Rutschman said. “Went down to a minicamp a couple of weeks ago, and they introduced us to a lot of new stuff with regards to analytics. I think it’s really good and going to be beneficial … I think big league camp is going to be a great experience, and I’m hoping to build off that.”