For Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, it was a strange feeling. After not seeing his team on the field since March 11, when the Orioles played the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida, he had most of his team on the field Friday at Oriole Park. It was the Orioles’ first workout after the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s new for everybody, and not just for us, but for the other 29 teams,” Hyde said in a Zoom conference call.
“It’s obviously different to hold a three-week summer camp before a sprint season of 60 games. I just feel really good about the communication that we’ve had as an organization, as a team, as a coaching staff, over these past few months, and I think we’ve dealt with it as well as we possibly could have, and I’m really looking forward to watching our guys play.
“Our guys were really anxious to get out on the field today. They’re already talking about [Opening Day on July] 24th.”
Hyde said that with the exception of some of the players from the Dominican Republic, who were still being tested for the virus, all of his players were on the field. Because of Major League Baseball protocols on the coronavirus, he declined to comment if any player had tested positive. He did say that no player or coach has opted out.
Hyde said he has spent a lot of time familiarizing himself with MLB rules about Covid-19.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about staying safe and really taking care of ourselves,” Hyde said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations as a team, as a coaching staff, to really be smart on and off the field and follow the guidelines, handle all the protocols and do everything that’s asked.
“So far today, we’ve done all those things, and we feel good about it going forward.
“When you’re out on the field, it feels normal. It’s definitely different in the clubhouse. It’s different in the coaches’ room. There’s just a lot of protocols we’ve bought into to make this a safe, healthy season and do everything we can to make us safe as well as the players and coaches.”
Three weeks from now, the Orioles will begin the truncated season. First there will be some intrasquad games and three yet-to-be-scheduled exhibition games.
“We’re just looking forward to competing and seeing what happens,” Hyde said. “The next three weeks is a really important time to see where we are physically, get our guys in game shape as fast as possible, which is unique and something that we’ve never done before.
“We’re going to listen to the players and see how they’re feeling on a daily basis … hopefully we’re ready to go on the 24th.”
Hyde said the Orioles had added right-handed pitcher Evan Phillips to the player pool, which is at 45. Phillips was slowed during spring training by a right elbow injury, and he’s behind the other pitchers, he said.
Outfielder DJ Stewart, who’s expected to compete for a spot on the initial 30-man roster, didn’t play during spring training because he was recovering from right ankle surgery. He’s a full-go, Hyde said.
Even though it has been more than 3 ½ months since the Orioles were together, Hyde isn’t going to forget what he saw in the first month in Sarasota.
“We’re still trying to find out about a lot of guys on our roster,” Hyde said. “I really was encouraged by the momentum that we had in camp. I thought we played well. I thought our work days were fantastic. We’ve talked about that, trying to capture that momentum again here in these next three weeks.”
Hyde has kept in contact with his players and says they’re excited.
“Our guys are itching and ready to go,” he said. “They really want to play. I feel really good where our team is mentally. I thought we’ve done a really nice job of keeping up on them physically and they’ve done a nice job of taking accountability for themselves and their careers and come in here in really good shape.”