NORTH PORT, Florida.-What’s happening? Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed optimism that the Orioles’ franchise was solid in remarks he made at a news conference at Major League Baseball’s Florida Spring Training Media Day.
“I have spent a considerable amount of time with the Angelos family this offseason,” Manfred said on Sunday. “I think that the family is committed to making baseball as good as it can possibly be in Baltimore. They’re excited about [general manager] Mike Elias and his team in terms of their ability to make the franchise as competitive as possible.
“I think there’s a future, and a good future for baseball in Baltimore.”
Manfred also said that the MASN case involving rights fees for Washington Nationals games is nearing its end.
“In terms of the MASN dispute, there’s an RSDC [Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee] ruling,” Manfred said. “There’s a sum of money that is due and owing. There’s some legal issues surrounding those payments that need to be resolved and I’m hopeful that once those back payments get made, we’ll get into a regular process for setting rights fees for both clubs and moving forward in a more business-like way.”
The majority of Manfred’s availability was devoted to questions about punishment and his decision-making in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. He became testy at times, asking for questions on other subjects.
Manfred did say that he would have a decision on the Boston Red Sox punishment for their role in 2018 electronic sign-stealing by the end of next week. He also said he was discussing in-game restrictions on video use with the Players Association.
Elias said that he was heartened by the commissioner’s confidence in the direction of the franchise.
“It’s good to hear,” Elias said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do, and things aren’t going to go perfectly, but we really feel like are now set up the way we want to be set up. Things are going to move in the right direction. They’re going to continue to grow in the right direction.
“We’ve experienced a bit of a rejuvenation in the farm system. Our system has entered the top 10 conversation. We’ve got a lot of young players who are new to the Orioles on the big league level that we’re excited about. And we’re continuing to build and improve our infrastructure.
“We now have our scouting and player development department in the mold that we want it to be. Now it’s about bringing more young talent in, continuing to develop these guys properly, and I’m fully confident that we’ll get where we need to go. The partnership group has been terrific in supporting us and providing us with what we need.”
Elias said that his work isn’t affected by the MASN dispute.
“I don’t involve myself in it,” Elias said. “I certainly follow it in the media. I’m aware of it. Obviously, there’s much to be worked out the. We have so much on our plate in baseball operations that we’re focused on that. I trust that it will land in the right spot at the right time, and we’re just going to keep focusing on our work and our rebuilding efforts.”
The Orioles’ full squad takes the field on Monday for its first workout. The team has five days before the first Grapefruit League game at North Port against the Atlanta Braves.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that he expects everyone in camp for the Monday workout.
This is Hyde’s second camp, and he has noticed a difference.
“We’re still going to focus on the same things,” Hyde said. “Fundamentals are going to be stressed. We have an extra year of experience this year, and that’s really helpful.”
What’s happened?—Among the position players to report on Sunday were Hanser Alberto, Yusniel Diaz, Dilson Herrera and Richard Urena.
“It’s great to see guys show up early the last few days and work out,” Hyde said.
The only position players who were not seen during the time the clubhouse was open to the media were Chris Davis, infielder Ramon Urias and utilityman Stevie Wilkerson.
Catcher Pedro Severino took part in drills. Mychal Givens played catch, but Hunter Harvey is still absent because of illness.
What’s up with? –Bryan Holaday is one of seven catchers in Orioles camp. Holaday signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on January 28.
Holoday has a .241 average in 268 games in eight seasons with Detroit, Texas, Boston and Miami.
“There’s a lot of competition in this camp,” Holaday said. “I’m really excited to work with [catching coach Tim] Cossins because I know he can make me a better catcher.”
Holaday played against the Orioles in the American League Division Series in 2014.
“Being in that atmosphere in that stadium was one of the loudest stadiums I’ve ever heard,” Holaday said.
What’s what? Elias was again asked about his thoughts on the Astros’ situation. He worked for the club until he began running the Orioles in November 2018.
“I am still confident that it does not affect the quality and the methods behind the scouting and the player development work that was done over there,” Elias said, “… and is so relevant to why we’re here with the Orioles, why we’re in this position, and what we’re going to do in the next couple of years, but it’s a shame.”
What’s the word? “I wouldn’t close the door to it. I don’t know that there’s a likelihood or definitely not anything pending, but it’s still early enough in camp where we will be open to opportunities. I think at some point, we might be a little mindful of the calendar and go with what we have, but we’re still monitoring which free agents are available.”–Elias said on whether the Orioles are still pursuing free-agent pitchers.
What’s the number? 1,307,807. Last season’s attendance was the lowest for a full season since 1978.
“I wish our attendance was higher, and it will be higher in the future,” Elias said. “I know that. In the meantime, it’s where we’re at, and it’s the situation that we’re in, and the only way, the primary focus needs to be to get the club back on its feet, win enough games to compete for a playoff spot, and that’s going to take some time. I don’t know any reliable way to artificially inflate attendance while your team is losing, and we just want to start winning.
“When that happens, with the sports passion we have in Baltimore, with the history attached to that club, with the unbelievable ballpark that we have, everything that’s being done to improve the ballpark experience, it’s going to come back.”