Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has communicated regularly with outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini in the offseason, and he likes what he’s heard and seen.
Mancini, who had surgery for colon cancer on March 12th and missed the 2020 season while undergoing chemotherapy, is training in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I talked to him a couple of weeks ago,” Hyde said in a video conference call on Monday. “He’s doing great, feels great, looks great. I’ve got video on him, hitting in a facility that he works out in, and he looks exactly the same.
“Excited to have Trey be a part of a full spring training in February, and can’t wait to see. All signs are great, and he looks fantastic.”
Hyde’s call replaces the availability managers have at the Winter Meetings, which were canceled because of the pandemic. Major League Baseball has arranged calls with each manager this week.
Oriole pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Sarasota, Florida on February 16th. Hyde, who spoke from his office at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, expects spring training to proceed on schedule and for the 162-game schedule to begin on April 1st.
Last year, the season consisted of 60 games. When the Orioles gather, they’ll be without shortstop José Iglesias, who led the team in hitting, starting second baseman Hanser Alberto and Renato Núñez, who led the team in home runs. Iglesias was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels on December 2nd, Alberto wasn’t offered a contract and Núñez was released on November 25.
“We’re losing some good players, and this is a little bit of where we are as an organization, where we are as a team,” Hyde said. “I have confidence in our guys, that we’re going to replace them and I feel really good about the young players that we have coming through our system as well as the guys we already have here — so tough to lose Iggy and Nunie because they were a huge part of our offense, a huge part of our club.
“It’s a next-man-up mentality, and we’re going to have young players, give them an opportunity to play and I think that we have some guys that are ready for the challenge.”
Hyde is in his third season as Orioles manager. In his first, the team went 54-108, which was a seven-game improvement from 2018 when the Orioles lost a franchise-record 115 games. In 2020, the Orioles’ 25-35 record tied for the fifth worst in baseball. The year before, the Orioles had the second-poorest record in MLB.
“I thought we made a lot of progress last year,” Hyde said. “Even though it was a shortened season, and the games played were cut dramatically, I did feel we made strides as an organization, big strides as a major league club in a lot of areas.
“We got a lot of our young players to the big leagues, especially in the last half of the 60-game season. You’re starting seeing some guys that were coming through our system. That’s exciting to get some youth, guys we like a lot with the [Ryan] Mountcastles, Dean Kremer, [Keegan Akin], etc.
“We saw guys really continue to improve from the year before, Tony Santander, a lot of our guys in our bullpen. We’ve just got to continue to keep getting better. This next year is more of that, giving more guys opportunity, continue to get our young guys better, really creating a core group of players to compete in the American League East going forward.”
Last week, Chris Davis, who is entering the sixth year of a seven-year, $161 million contract, said that his left knee, which forced him to the injured list twice and limited him to 16 games, never felt strong once he reported to summer camp in July. Davis hit .409 during spring training, which ended on March 12th, but hit only .115 during the season.
“I thought he had a great spring,” Hyde said. “He was off to a great start. He was in a great place, mentally, physically, taking really good at-bats, showing great leadership on the field. He was having a really good spring training and, unfortunately, the [3 ½] month layoff affected a lot of people around the league.
“It’s hard to, especially for a veteran player, hard to re-ramp up your workout, how to do that, and when to do that. I knew pretty early when we got back to Baltimore that his leg was bothering him and we were going to manage that. I loved the signs that we were seeing in the first spring training, and I was hoping that those at-bats would then carry over when the season started.
“Unfortunately, he got off to a slow start. His leg was bothering him, and the right thing to do was to let it rest and to rehab it.
“Chris has had a few tough years. He’s still a part of the club. He’s going to come in, like everybody else and try to get playing time, and try to get as many at-bats as possible. I’m going to give him an opportunity. I’m going to give him a ton of at-bats in spring training and try to get him right like we’ve done the last couple of years.
“We have younger players that are getting here also, other guys that play his position. He’s going to have to perform to get at-bats in the season.”