The Orioles soon will have 85 percent of their players and staff vaccinated for Covid-19, manager Brandon Hyde said Friday.
Major League Baseball will allow teams that meet the 85 percent rate to no longer wear masks in dugouts or bullpens or wear contact tracing devices in team facilities.
They also can dine at indoor and outdoor restaurants, eat and drink freely during team travel.
“We’re doing well. We’re going to be over that,” Hyde said. “We’re going to hit that threshold. Now, it’s going to be the time it takes from when everyone would become cleared. It’s a big deal, a big deal for us.”
Teams also can play video games and use pool and ping-pong tables. They also can use saunas and steam rooms.
“It feels good as a team, as an organization, to know that a majority of our guys are vaccinated,” Hyde said. “We can start to go back to a little bit of normalcy from how it’s been the past couple of years. The organization has been ahead of this from the beginning, of encouraging people to be vaccinated. The majority of our players and staff followed suit, and it’s a good feeling to know that most people will be vaccinated.”
Fans attending games can get free testing for Covid-19. Free testing is available at Section 26 of the lower concourse from one hour before game time, when the gates open until 2 ½ hours after the first pitch or the top of the eighth inning, whichever comes first.
Test results will be reported by call, text or email between 24 and 48 hours after the test. Testing is voluntary and not required for admission.
New Oriole Park voice: Adrienne Roberson has been named as the new public address announcer for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Roberson succeeds Ryan Wagner, who held the post from 2012-2020 but was dismissed before the team’s home opener on April 8th.
For the last 17 seasons, Roberson had been the voice of the Bowie Baysox, and occasionally filled in for Wagner. She was at the microphone for the season’s first homestand.
Roberson is the major league’s fourth female public address announcer, and the first for the Orioles.
In addition to the Orioles, Roberson has worked at Georgetown University for the past eight years, announcing for a number of sports. She also works for Sirius/XM radio as a board operator and for Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn as their attendance coordinator.
Saturday starter undecided: Hyde has decided that John Means, will start on Sunday instead of Saturday.
“We’re just going to give John an extra day,” Hyde said. “We’re going to need a spot starter anyways. We’re going to allow John to have that extra day and throw him on Sunday.
“Tomorrow, it’s either going to be a bullpen-type game, somebody from here or potentially somebody from the secondary site [Bowie]. We’ll play tonight or make a decision after the game.”
If a pitcher from the current roster is selected, it could be Wade LeBlanc or Adam Plutko.
No pressure for Valdez: César Valdez has waited many years for major league success, and he’s enjoying it.
“No, I don’t feel any pressure,” the 36-year-old right-hander said through a translator. “I think with my age, with my experience, I’ve been through so many different scenarios. I’m trying to go out there and compete. I’m trying to have fun and enjoy the moment.”
Valdez is 1-0 with an 0.96 ERA and four saves in five chances.
“I’m trying to embrace it and take advantage of the opportunity, just grateful for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to going out there,” he said. “Every time they give me the ball, I’m trying to do my job the best that I can.”
It has been difficult for hitters to time Valdez’s offspeed pitches.
“I think the changeup is going to be hard to hit, no matter what,” Hyde said. “In the bullpen, you always want to give different looks, whether it’s arm angle from both sides, right, left. You want not to have guys that all have the same stuff.”
The Orioles have power pitcher Tanner Scott as a setup man.
“I think that works out well where Tanner shows you a unique look that high-90s, left-handed fastball, the sharp slider, and then Valdez with the unique stuff that he has and how he’s able to pitch,” Hyde said. “When you put together your bullpen, that’s what you’re looking for is guys that can give different looks to opposing hitters at the end of the game.”
Notes: Pitching coach Chris Holt is away from the team this weekend because of a personal matter. Assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes will fill in.