What’s happening? –Oriole pitchers and catchers will work out for the second day at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Florida on Thursday. Matt Harvey, whose minor league contract became official on Wednesday, becomes the 37th pitcher in camp.
Harvey will compete with veterans Felix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc, who also signed minor league contracts, for a spot in the starting rotation.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that with the exception of Harvey, who was completing his physical during Wednesday’s workout, that everyone was in attendance.
What’s happened?—Pitchers threw their first bullpen sessions of the spring, and Chris Holt, who has become the team’s pitching coach in addition to the director of pitching, was watching closely along with Darren Holmes, the bullpen coach who is the assistant pitching coach.
“Chris Holt has been here for a couple of years, so guys are very familiar with him, and Holmesy,” starting pitcher John Means said on a Zoom call. “I think it’s going to be a really good dynamic. Holt knows both sides of the ball, he knows the analytics, and he knows the pitching side, too, the execution part.
“That’s a key now, especially in the times nowadays, it’s so analytically driven that sometimes you start to lose the feel for where it’s going, and I think he has a good feel for both. He’s able to build good relationships with guys, and guys can go to him for anything. His door is wide open.”
What’s up with? Shawn Armstrong and Means are taking on leadership roles.
“I think I do a pretty good job of it,” said Armstrong, who’s mentoring relief pitchers. “John Means does a really good job of it. I think collectively as our core group that was here last year, we’re going to rely on one another … We have a lot of hungry young players that want to get to the big leagues. We have a lot of talent in that room right now. It’s going to be a very exciting spring training, and I can’t wait to get going.”
Armstrong said he’s impressed with the talent among the Orioles’ relievers.
“I think numbers-wise what we did last year in the short stint with the guys we had in the bullpen kind of speaks for itself,” he said about the 60-game 2020 season. “We did a really good job, in my opinion, out of the bullpen. We have a few of those core guys back … We also have a lot of young talent that’s coming up through the system that has some really electric stuff so I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like this spring.”
What’s what? It’s an unusual spring training for the media, because it can’t attend the early workouts and won’t have access beyond Zoom interviews because of the pandemic.
Normally, a handful of writers chat with new players during the first hour-long clubhouse availability. Hernández, a former Cy Young Award winner, would have been a go-to guy. Means said that he hadn’t had a chance to talk pitching with Hernandez.
One of the many advantages to being there for those early days is to see which pitchers were held out of bullpen sessions. Another is the opportunity to meet new players.
Hyde said that he’s unable to address the full team in the clubhouse because of the need for social distancing. Last week, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said some players will have to work at the minor league complex at Twin Lakes.
What’s the word? “It’s three guys that have pitched a lot of innings in the big leagues. It’s fun to have them in camp … We don’t have a ton of veterans on this team. To have two guys or more that have pitched in big games and done this for a long time, I think it’s really, really important. I think it’s huge for our younger players, to lean on somebody that’s done it. The little I know Felix, he’s a great guy to be around and we all know Wade from last year, and what a quality person and a veteran presence he is, so excited to have those guys in camp. I’m a believer that veterans can help young players, and I think they have every opportunity to make this club, and we’ll see where it goes.”-Hyde on having Harvey, Hernández and LeBlanc in camp
What’s the number? 96 is catcher Adley Rutschman’s uniform number this spring. Last spring, he was assigned 76. It’s safe to guess that when he makes his major league debut, the top pick in 2019 will be given a number much lower.
With 73 players plus coaches in camp, many high numbers were assigned. Cody Carroll, who wore 49 in his 18 major league games in 2018 and 2020, saw his number double to 98 as a camp reserve.
Ryan Ripken wasn’t assigned his father’s No. 8 nor his uncle Bill’s No. 3 nor his grandfather Cal Sr.’s No. 7. He’ll wear No. 99 when he reports with the rest of the position players on Sunday.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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