SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening? –Manager Brandon Hyde has been impressed with what he’s seen of catcher Adley Rutschman in the first week of spring training.
“He’s fun to watch hit,” Hyde said. “I just like the way he swings the bat from both sides of the plate. He’s got huge power … He’s got a chance to hit for average and power. Real simple swing, very strong. Ball flies off his bat.”
Hyde has watched Rutschman catch veteran pitchers in bullpen sessions, and he’s been impressed.
“He’s come here, and he’s not been afraid,” Hyde said. “He’s been vocal. He’s created good relationships with guys. The players really like him. They like throwing to him. He’s communicating really well for a guy that’s in his first big league camp. “
Hyde, a former catcher, also likes the way he presents himself.
“He’s just got a really good personality, so it’s real,” Hyde said. “It’s no fake. He’s not doing anything for showboating reasons.”
Relief pitcher Hunter Harvey, who has missed time because of illness, said he hasn’t been given a schedule for pitching Grapefruit League games.
“I have no clue, yet” Harvey said. “We haven’t talked a whole lot about the season, yet. We’re trying to get through spring. I don’t have a plan. It’s wide open.”
What’s happened?—The Orioles claimed infielder Andrew Velazquez on waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Velazquez hit .152 in 28 games over the past two years with Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Last season, he hit (.087) 2-for-23 with the Indians and Rays.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Velazquez, the Orioles designated infielder Richard Urena for assignment.
Chris Davis was sent home sick. Harvey and Trey Mancini, who also missed time because of illness, are nearly back to normal.
Hyde said he would consider Hanser Alberto as a backup shortstop. He has played 12 games at shortstop in the major leagues, but none last season.
“The more positions Hanser can play, the better,” Hyde said. “We’re moving him around a little bit. We want to make sure we give him reps at all three [infield] spots.”
Hyde thinks Ryan Mountcastle looks more refined at first base.
“He just looks more comfortable in everything he’s doing, to me,” Hyde said. “He’s obviously put a lot of work in. He’s physically stronger. You can tell he’s worked hard this offseason and that the first base transition is a lot easier than it was last spring training, and he ran good in the outfield [Tuesday]. I’m really happy with how he came in ready to compete this spring.”
Outfielder DJ Stewart, who’s rehabbing from right ankle surgery in October, is taking batting practice. Hyde said he won’t play in Grapefruit League games before early March.
“It’s still a long ways away,” Hyde said.
What’s up with? Ramón Urias was claimed by the Orioles from the St. Louis Cardinals last week and joins the competition for an infield spot.
Last year, Urias, 25, hit .262 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs with Triple-A Memphis, Double-A Springfield and High-A Palm Beach.
“I was happy because we all know I have a better opportunity with this team,” said Urias, who plays second, third and short.
Urias played in the Mexican League, which is considered Triple-A level from 2013-2017.
“Right here, there’s a lot more talent,” Urias said. “The game’s a lot faster.”
What’s what? For years, Joe Angel, Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra were the Orioles’ principal radio announcers. Now, Angel and Manfra are retired, and Hunter is moving to a new role with the team.
Geoff Arnold, the play-by-play voice of the Frederick Keys, longtime Baltimore broadcaster Scott Garceau, and Melanie Newman, who was the lead broadcaster in baseball’s first all-female broadcast team with the Carolina League’s Salem Red Sox, join the broadcast team.
What’s the word? – He’s never really played a full season, and he’s come here like he belongs. He’s done everything really well, from his defensive work to his communication to how he’s been swinging the bat in [batting practice] has been fantastic.”-Hyde on Rutschman’s first big league camp.
What’s the number? 2. The Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida is on Saturday. Hyde said he’ll name his starter Thursday.