It’s time for our monthly mailbag. I appreciate all the questions, which have been edited for clarity, length and style. I will answer questions today and tomorrow.
Question: Are you surprised by the composition of the Norfolk roster? Are there players on there you thought would be at Double-A Bowie? From: @robjefferson306
Answer: Rob, the composition of the Norfolk roster is nearly identical to the players who were at the alternate training site at Bowie, so there aren’t many surprises.
I did think that Kevin Smith, the left-handed pitcher the Orioles received from the Mets in the trade for reliever Miguel Castro might be on the Norfolk roster instead of Bowie. I was a little surprised that Brett Cumberland was on the Tides’ roster, but because the injury to Nick Ciuffo, who suffered a hand fracture, and the taxi squad considerations, a third catcher was necessary.
Question: Rich, how does the start of the minor league season impact the taxi squad and having an alternate training site? From: Cedar via BaltimoreBaseball.com
Answer: Cedar, with the start of the minor league season, there is no longer a requirement that teams have a five-man taxi squad. I think some will, especially for longer trips because it’s good to have players available in case of injury. Ryan McKenna was twice added to the roster because he was on the taxi squad. Norfolk will have a five-man taxi squad this season.
Question: Will right-handed pitcher Michael Baumann be added to the rotation after his treatment? From: @Mo10_11
Answer: According to Matt Blood, the Orioles’ director of development, Baumann is in Sarasota because the team is easing him back into action after he suffered a flexor mass strain, and they hope he’s pitching by the end of the month.
I think the Orioles will be conservative with Baumann this season, and it’s possible you may not see him until late this season, if at all. It’s more likely that Baumann pitches in the bullpen, if he’s in the majors. The rotation isn’t a consideration for him in 2021.
Question: Who are the 60 guys the Orioles have in extended spring training? Are they going to be filling out the rosters in rookie ball? From: Bman via BaltimoreBaseball.com
Answer: That’s correct. The Orioles will have two teams in what was long known as the Gulf Coast League but will be called the Complex League this season. Play starts on June 28th.
Question: My son is graduating from Towson University with a degree in mass communication and he wants to be a sportswriter. Are you hiring? What advice would you give? From: Will Pinder Jr. on Facebook
Answer: Congratulations to your son.Unfortunately, we have a small staff and aren’t hiring.
Hopefully, your son had some valuable internships during his college career, but even those have been impacted by the pandemic.
It’s hard to become a sportswriter these days. There are more major league players than active members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but many people are able to write sports and cover games while holding jobs that aren’t in journalism.
I would recommend your son start by writing high school or recreational league games for local newspapers or websites and write as often as he can. Best of luck to him.
Question: Rich, I keep hearing about a possible rule change requiring four infielders on infield dirt. Are there any rules stating the dimensions the infield must be besides the 90-foot basepaths? From: Beachdogs via BaltimoreBaseball.com
Answer: Beachdogs, there are no other rules about the infield, other than they’re required to be 90 feet from each other. In Double-A this season, infielders must keep their feet on the infield dirt. In the second half of the season, two infielders must be positioned on either side of second base, and they must keep their feet on the dirt as the pitch is delivered.
Question: I find it odd that no one from the front office or coaching staff will comment on Chris Davis’s supposed back injury. If they are simply trying to hide the guy and keep him off the active roster, why not just finally cut our losses and officially move on? If he is truly injured, why isn’t he rehabbing in Sarasota or at the minor league complex? Why is he rehabbing at home? From: SoFloOsFan
Answer: Our readers faithfully ask about Chris Davis. Along with you, Glenn Fuller of Laurel and Ben Everett had a similar question.
First, SoFloOsFan, the Orioles never said Davis was rehabbing at home. Manager Brandon Hyde said Davis was “just rehabbing,” and wasn’t specific, though a report in The Athletic said that he was rehabbing near his home in Texas.
Some have supposed that the Orioles are not cutting Davis in case there’s a labor dispute next year, resulting in a shortened season. That’s a likely possibility.
For the moment, Davis isn’t close to playing, and he didn’t play much last year (16 games, 55 plate appearances) and isn’t on the 40-man roster. If he’s unable to play for the rest of his contract, which runs through next year, the Orioles can simply keep him off the 40-man roster—except during the offseason.
Question: Rich, with stadiums opening to fans, why are media still working remotely? Any criteria or timetable for return, to your knowledge? Are the available seats unsuitable for broadcasting or reporting? Just thinking you’d like to be on site. From: Will Miranda via BaltimoreBaseball.com.
Answer: Will, I have been covering home games and some road games this season, and that was also the case last year. I’ll be covering the Orioles’ two games at Citi Field against the Mets next week and the Orioles’ games in Washington later in the month.
Writers have been free to travel throughout the pandemic but because of health and safety reasons, some outlets and writers have chosen not to. I didn’t attend spring training this year but covered the first two series at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.
Local broadcasting continues to be remote because, unlike writers, broadcasters travel with the team and Major League Baseball wants a small traveling party and doesn’t want people other than players, coaches, trainers and a small number of staff members on charter planes.
Hopefully, those restrictions loosen for all soon. Here’s a way to find out if I’m covering a game in person. If I put the city name at the beginning of my story, that means I’m on site.