Orioles' Hyde begins evaluation process; Mancini returns; Ruiz expresses confidence - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles’ Hyde begins evaluation process; Mancini returns; Ruiz expresses confidence

What’s happening? –The Orioles’ first of 28 Grapefruit League games is Sunday at Ed Smith Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This spring’s schedule has been reduced, and the first game is a day later than originally scheduled.

In the schedule released last September, the Orioles were slated for 32 games. Three split-squad games have been dropped, and instead of an off-day on March 10th, there will be two off-days on March 8th and 18th.

Manager Brandon Hyde hasn’t decided who will pitch in the first game.

“I think we’re still mapping that out,” Hyde said. “We’re down to a few candidates to start those first couple of games.”

He said that before the games begin, each pitcher will throw two live batting practices, and he’ll announce the starters for the first games in the next few days.

“I think we’re going to be fair in evaluating,” Hyde said. “We’ll take a long look at starter candidates, veteran and young.”

He’s eager to see the trio of non-roster major league veteran starters, Matt Harvey, Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc.

“We’re definitely going to give them every opportunity to show well,” Hyde said.

Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins will get playing time in center field between now and Opening Day, Hyde said.

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“I think we’re going to give both guys a ton of playing time and a lot of at-bats this spring, and then we’ll make a decision and see how things shake out towards the end of camp,” Hyde said. “I want both guys to get ready to play. They’re both going to see a lot of center field time in spring training. I’m going to move Austin around a little bit. They’ll share it for a while, and we’ll go from there.”

Last season, Hays started 20 games in center field, eight games in left and three in right.

What’s happened?—The Orioles’ position players took the field for their first full-squad workout on Monday. Chris Davis, who was delayed by the bad weather in Texas, took his physical and joined the team for the workout.

Trey Mancini, who missed the 60-game 2020 season because of colon cancer surgery, was an eager participant, though he’d be in camp since before it opened on February 16th.

“Just to see the smile on his face when I got to the ballpark, to see everybody else’s reaction to him, that was a special moment,” Hyde said.

Hyde said he was pleased with the first workout.

“They seem really focused,” Hyde said. “Just really pleased with the shape these guys are in, and they’re ready to go.” 

What’s up with? Rio Ruiz. He’s the likely Opening Day third baseman for the third straight season. Ruiz, who hit .222 last season, doesn’t have specific goals for 2021.

“Continue to grow, and if you take the good and the bad from the year before and you throw it out the window, and start a new slate, the sky’s the limit for anybody,” Ruiz said.

“It’s OK to be a little arrogant when you’re on the field. You have to be. That’s half the battle if you’re in the big leagues because everybody’s so danged good. They really are. If you have any self-doubt, it’s going to creep in.”

What’s what? In a normal spring with open clubhouses, Mancini would be the reason for national reporters to visit the Orioles. But this isn’t a normal time, nor is Mancini’s comeback story at 29.

He’s been candid about his last year in the hope of helping others who also have been diagnosed with colon cancer, and is encouraging younger men to get colonoscopies.

“I’ve become friends with a lot of colon cancer survivors of all stages, 1 through 4,” Mancini said. “That really helped me get through it and realize it’s not going to be easy going through chemotherapy. It takes a toll on you, but at the same time there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“A lot of people go on to live normal lives. You have to think positive as you’re going through it. A lot of people helped me out in my journey and now being able to inspire other people and helping other people is what I see as returning the favor, and it’s something I want to do.”

What’s the word? “I got to watch a lot of baseball last year, and I definitely watched more baseball than I ever have, so I would stand up in the living room when a game was going on and dry swing. I made sure that I watched some pitchers that I may face this year and I just wanted to continue what I did in that September in 2019. I know that’s a long time ago at this point. Just that minor adjustment, setting my sights a little higher. I remember that, and that’s still my approach at the plate, and that hasn’t changed at this time.”-Mancini on elevating his swing late in the 2019 season.

What’s the number? 27, 96. Last year, Ruiz had nine home runs and 32 RBIs in 54 games, one-third the length of a conventional 162-game season.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Rio Ruiz is the likely starting 3rd basemen for the 3rd straight season …. and people ’round here wonder why I question Mike Elias.

    Isn’t it “3 strikes and you’re out” in this game?

    I’m not saying Eilas has to go, but I do believe Rio has to.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2021 at 9:45 am

      Ken, for some reason, you’ve decided that Rio Ruiz is the reason the Orioles may not meet your expectations this season. Rio Ruiz isn’t an All-Star third baseman, and he’s not holding them back. Last year, their starting pitchers had an ERA of 5.09 ERA. That’s the principal reason that’s holding them back. Ruiz actually had a .7 WAR last year, so he was considered better analytically than an average player. I get that you’re sick of watching him play, and within a year or so, I’m sure they’ll move on from him because he’ll be eligible for arbitration after this year, but good third baseman are hard to find, especially since you’ve appropriated the name of one of them.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 23, 2021 at 11:13 am

        No Rich .. Rio is only one of many reasons the O’s stink. Rio is not by himself. What irks me about Ruiz is that he’s obviously a GM’s pet project from his old team. When we cut underpaid infielders that hit for a .373 average while playing short to save a couple of million, and yet continue to hand jobs to guys batting .222 …. no analytics are going to change my mind. He has flashes, he can get on a streak. He’s got the body and the look, but at a whisker under 27 years of age, this more likely than not, is going to be as good as he gets. Time to move on. No use waiting.

  2. mmcmillan1123

    February 23, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Rio’s numbers last season project over a full season to 27 home runs and 96 rbi. Not bad for a placeholder. I’m satisfied with Rio at 3rd base until we develop a replacement in our minor league system or when we start winning more and trade for or sign as a free agent a better one. Patience Boog. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the Orioles. At least Mike Elias isn’t saying stupid stuff to the media and getting himself fired like the Angels GM just did..

    • mmcmillan1123

      February 23, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Pardon me it was the Angels President/CEO not their GM.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 23, 2021 at 10:54 am

      MMC … check that math.

      I’m assuming you calculated (tripled) those numbers off Rich’s incorrect statement that 60 games equals one third of a season. I’m no mathematician, but last I checked 60 = 1/3 of a 180 game season, not a 162 game season. They actually played 38% of a season, not 33%.

      So if you take Rio’s 9 taters and extrapolate that over a full 162, he would have 24 homers and 82 RBIs, not 27 & 96. These numbers are no great shakes considering you’re playing in OPACY. Heck, they waved Nunez who hit 25% MORE HRs than Rio! That extrapolates to 12 more in a season. Remember, there were 50 players that hit 30 or more in 2019, the last full season. FIFTY!! Home runs come cheap these days.

      And we can talk .7 WAR all day long, but a .222 batting average is a .222 batting average no matter how many games you play. That number is NOT what I want playing the hot corner. Hell….know who has a .233 lifetime? Try Crush Davis. So forgive me if I don’t want some defensively average at best AAA talent providing a fashion show while playing 3rd base when he hits for 11 points lower than the player who’s widely regarded as the “worste” professional signing of all time.

      I stand behind my assessment of Rio Ruiz. We need somebody better. Rylan Bannon anybody?.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      Totally agree, MLB network top 10 batters to rebound this yr, gosh, no CD, Bannon all day long…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2021 at 12:30 pm

      Ken, Ruiz played in 54 games, which is one-third of a season.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 23, 2021 at 5:11 pm

        True enough Rich, that’s a valid defense of your numbers. I apologize, for saying your number was “incorrect”. It was not. It was correct. Sorry I didn’t notice that stipulation the 1st time I read the article.

        However, I still stand behind my calculations in that other than Iron Man types, a vast majority of players take games off due to injury, rest and a myriad of other reasons. So seeing as Ruiz took 6 days off of the 60 played, it’s fair to assume he’d have taken at least that many more, if not more games had it been a full season. Actually, the 6 games would extrapolate to 16 games total.

        I accept your 54=1/3 of a season explanation, but again, I stand behind my numbers.

  3. mmcmillan1123

    February 23, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Pardon me it was the Angels President/CEO not their GM.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2021 at 9:41 am

      No, it was the Seattle Mariners’ president, not the GM>

  4. mmcmillan1123

    February 23, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Yes, I caught that as soon as I posted it. I would like to see the O’s be built by Mike Elias slowly and steadily instead of him make a bunch of flashy moves, have the O’s be one year wonders and then slip into mediocrity for a long time again.

  5. Bman

    February 23, 2021 at 9:52 am

    I have to think this is Ruiz’s last chance to perform. If he doesn’t then Bannon takes his spot, or maybe a Nevin or someone else. I want Hays playing everyday. Do not make him a platoon with Mullins. Big mistake. Also interested in seeing how Felix and Matt Harvey perform. Could be intriguing if they regain their form.

  6. millboy

    February 23, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Ruiz is a place holder until one of our own youngsters steps up to take over/grow into that position…hopefully that coincides with our young pitching staff getting better. There is a lot worse out there than Ruiz has been.

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      How about the Sisco kid at 3B?…go O’s…

  7. WorldlyView

    February 23, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    This ongoing debate about Ruiz has given new meaning to my life.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 23, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      Steve, did you ever see “Thelma and Ruiz?”

    • CalsPals

      February 23, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Rich, awesome, another shot at humor…go O’s…

    • Tileman

      February 23, 2021 at 10:24 pm

      LMAO

  8. WorldlyView

    February 23, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    No. Too busy reading accounts of Hyde’s effusive, blood sugar-raising praise of every ballplayer in camp. I’m also spending afternoons playing hyde and seek. No pandemic blues for me.

  9. ClyOs

    February 23, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    Ruiz is scheduled to make a whopping $575,000 this year. I really can’t complain if he has a 222 average, isn’t like he’s making OOOH SAY 17million dollars or so?

  10. Camden82

    February 24, 2021 at 12:07 am

    Elias’ plan all along has been to beef up this farm system. He has done that. Yes, Iglesias would have been great at short. He wouldn’t have been an Oriole in 2022, so Elias traded him for prospects.

    Ruiz bats .222 and yes, has average defense. Hoping he plays well above expectations and gets real streaky just in time for Elias to trade him for more prospects, and in time for Nevin or Bannon to take the reigns.

    Heck, we got prospects for Milone and that surprised the #*% out of me.

    If 25-30% of these prospects pan out and become solid players at the MLB level, Elias has done his job. He’s also significantly improved our international presence.

    Happy with how analytics are a major part of this franchise now, moving forward.

    Hoping for a surprising year out of these birds. They’ve been given a 0% chance to win the AL East it seems.

    Stranger things have happened ….

    • dlgruber1

      February 24, 2021 at 2:24 am

      Not to be too much of a smartass here but as an older fan I hate the analytics. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s here to stay but it should still NEVER replace instinct. Analytics lost game 6 for the Rays last year which potentially cost them the WS. No manager in their right mind would’ve ever taken Snell out of that game except Cash was so driven by analytics that he was probably afraid NOT to take him out.

    • CalsPals

      February 24, 2021 at 7:54 am

      Here, here DL, 100% with you…go O’s…

      • Camden82

        February 24, 2021 at 11:56 am

        Appreciate your opinion.

        Now, I would totally take being in a WS Game 6. Just saying. . .

        But, yes – everything in moderation, including moderation, right? Cash was infatuated with analytics. I am just saying, under Mazilli, Perlozzo, Trembley, & Buck we had 0 ability to incorporate analytics. Granted, only recently have we seen this analytics boom but, I am glad we have our foot through that door, same with international signings, etc. Now, if we ever were in a game six situation similar to TB and we had say, Kremer mowing people down like Snell was, yes, toss those damn analytics out the door!

        Go O’s.

    • dlgruber1

      February 25, 2021 at 12:27 am

      Camden82 I agree completely with getting involved in the Int’l market. The O’s may have never found themselves in the position they’re in now had they done that 6-8 years ago. I don’t know how old you are but as a senior citizen what I always loved about baseball was that it was also a chess match. How long should I stay with my pitcher? If he’s pitching great but we’re trailing 1-0 do I pinch hit for him (pre 1973 in AL, still in NL) in the 6th of 7th inning? Those were the decisions I loved seeing a manager have to make. That’s all being taken away now by analytics and I hate it. Again, as stated previously, I know it’s here to stay but the game within a game is not the same. And, to me anyway, baseball is the worse for it.

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