As the Orioles prepared for their home opener Wednesday night, they found out they would be without first baseman Chris Davis. Manager Brandon Hyde declined to elaborate on Davis’ absence, saying he was “not here today. He’s unavailable, not in the lineup.”
Davis, who’s the Orioles’ player representative, had said Tuesday that he would wear a mask when he played first base for additional protection from Covid-19. No adjustment was made to the Orioles’ roster.
The Orioles were scheduled to play the New York Yankees on March 26th at Camden Yards before the coronavirus pandemic put baseball on hold for four months. This past Monday, it was revealed that there had been a Covid-19 outbreak on the Miami Marlins, who were supposed play at Camden Yards Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, it was reported that as many as 17 in the Marlins’ traveling party had tested positive.
Major League Baseball has put the Marlins’ season on hold at least through Sunday. It also decided that the Yankees wouldn’t play the Phillies, the Marlins’ opponent last weekend, but instead would come to Baltimore for the Orioles’ home opener.
It will be an opener without fans because of the virus. And precautions will be strictly adhered to because of the Marlins’ situation.
“We’re way more spread out, everybody’s got masks on,” Hyde said in a video conference call of the clubhouse. “It’s a huge loss not having fans. It is different during the games.
“I felt like in Boston, it was fairly normal when the game started, and they have crowd noise, so it’s not just super quiet … Off the field, there’s no energy. You have to bring energy yourself. You have to create the energy in your dugout at a distance. Having no fans is something none of us are used to.”
Health concerns are taking up much of Hyde’s time and thoughts.
“I just think it’s natural that people have concerns, people have questions,” Hyde said. “We’re not any different. We have concerns. We have questions. It’s just part of this season … We’re handling it as well as we possibly can right now, and it’s just the way it is for this season.”
Even without fans, Hyde is happy to be playing at home after starting the season in Boston.
“I think the comfort of being home and the home routine is always nice,” he said. “Going on the road, you’re sleeping in a different bed. It might not be as comfortable being in the visiting clubhouse. Without a crowd, there’s no home field advantage out on the field.
“The one thing is as individual players, some guys feed off crowds … A closer or somebody that likes to be in a big spot. It’s helpful to have crowds. I think some other guys might be more comfortable in that situation … I don’t know if it’s going to help one time or another in our situation.”
Hyde misses Oriole fans.
“Unfortunately, besides mail, I haven’t had any interaction with Baltimore fans,” Hyde said. “I leave where I live, and I come right to the ballpark and go right back. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with any fans around town.”
The Orioles haven’t played since Sunday when they won their second straight against the Red Sox in Fenway Park to start the season 2-1.
“We’re ready to play,” Hyde said. “The last couple of days have been definitely strange.”
Iglesias not at home in Miami: Shortstop José Iglesias, who lives in Miami, was especially aware of the situation involving the Marlins.
“It was definitely a decision for me,” Iglesias said. “because I couldn’t go home. I have to stay at the hotel, but definitely Miami is a hot spot right now. But I think everybody on our team did a good job staying out of it and protecting themselves.
“It’s a very frustrating situation for all of us. We have the mentality to play the game and, unfortunately, this situation … Health is very important, and we understand that as a group. We’re just doing what we can to stay healthy and follow the safety protocol each day.”
Iglesias is trying to adjust to games without fans.
“It’s very difficult,” Iglesias said. “I’m not going to lie to you. It’s going to take extra focus. You’ve got to show your love for the game. That’s what I tell these guys each and every day, and I said it at a meeting the other day, it’s going to take all of us.
“I don’t feel good every day. They don’t feel good every day. We have to push each other up and keep the energy up. It’s very difficult, but we have to unite and support one another through these tough times.”
Additions and subtractions: The Orioles added right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, the team’s first draft choice in 2018, to the Bowie alternate site. The player pool is at 56.
Right-hander Hector Velázquez, who was removed from the player pool on Friday, was traded to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later.