Manager Brandon Hyde was going through his second spring training with the Orioles eight days ago, preparing for the 2020 season. Now, he wonders when the season will begin.
“There are just so many things that are not clear right now, and we’re in just a waiting game of what it’s going to look like,” Hyde said in a Friday conference call.
“What the season’s going to look like, what spring training’s going to look like, how long we have to prepare for the season.
“I really liked where we were when everything was put on hold. I thought we were making a lot of strides with our major league club. It was a real competitive camp, and guys were competing for jobs and making it hard on us to make tough decisions at the end.”
Major League Baseball shut down spring training and delayed the start of its season the day after the NBA suspended its season to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The season won’t start until at least mid-May and probably later.
The Orioles have 50 players on their roster, and Hyde will have to make decisions based on what he saw in the first month in camp and perhaps an additional week or 10 days at a locale to be determined.
“It’s such a unique situation,” Hyde said. “One that we’ve never been in. I want to look big picture. I want to make sure I’ve given everyone a fair opportunity. I think we were doing that for the month that we were together.”
Hyde doesn’t know what the roster size and regulations will be.
One of the players he’s communicated with is Trey Mancini, who underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon on March 12. In Thursday’s conference call, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was upbeat about Mancini’s prognosis. Hyde is, too.
“He’s in great spirits,” Hyde said. “His texts to me are extremely positive. I’m trying to uplift him, and he uplifts me.”
Hyde has spoken to players on the phone and is checking in regularly with Elias, other front office members and the training and medical staff.
“It’s waiting around,” Hyde said, something he and the rest of the country are trying to adjust to because of the pandemic.
“Everyone wants to see baseball played. Everybody wants to get back into uniform and we’re ready for games to start.”
Hyde said his biggest challenge is to make sure his pitchers are ready. No Oriole pitcher threw more than three innings in a Grapefruit League game, and it’s difficult to coach them from afar—especially when no one knows when the season will begin.
“That is a challenge,” Hyde said. “We’re putting together throwing programs and plans for guys individually with the thought of that it’s an unclear timeline of when to be ready.”
Orioles starter John Means jokingly said he would stream himself throwing batting practice to his wife. Hyde’s won’t use that as an evaluation, but he did say there would be coaching via video and FaceTime.
“It’s more of making sure these guys are on track, following the plan, how they look with their mechanics, how they feel physically, those type of things. They’re continuing to work on the same type of things they were working on a week ago.”
Hyde has time to reflect while waiting.
“It’s such a strange time,” he said. “I wake up really early, thinking that I have 47 things to do. I’ve never been home this time of year.”
Hyde’s been texting with other managers and wondering how they’re handling this unique circumstance.
“We’re all doing this together,” Hyde said. “We’re staying positive. We’re going to get through this thing, not a whole lot to do right now.”
Six days from now, the Orioles were set to open this season at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees.
“We’re going to wake up that morning, wishing that we were playing,” Hyde said. “We’re not.”