SARASOTA–What’s happening?—Nearly all the position players have reported to camp, two days ahead of their scheduled arrival. Austin Hays and rookie infielder Jordan Westburg and non-roster outfielder Nomar Mazara are the only players who haven’t been seen during the time when the Orioles’ clubhouse was open.
Position players are due to report on Monday, and the first full-squad workout is Tuesday. Grapefruit League play begins on Saturday. No intrasquad games preceding the first exhibition game have been scheduled. The Orioles will have live batting practices instead.
Manager Brandon Hyde will be careful with his relievers during camp. Bryan Baker and Félix Bautista pitched deeper into major league seasons than they’ve pitched before.
“A lot of those guys threw a lot of innings, more than they ever have,” Hyde said. “Baker never pitched a full extra month. Hopefully, they got a nice break. I think we’re going to monitor throughout spring. I’d love to stay as healthy as we did in the bullpen.
“We had a couple of things. I thought we did a good job with keeping guys as healthy as possible and we’ll continue to monitor that and make that important.”
Hyde said the Orioles would be cautious with Bautista, who is recovering from knee and shoulder injuries.
“Now, it’s just kind of progression from here,” Hyde said. “See how he recovers from [Friday’s] side session. All good, then move on to the next step, maybe ramp it up a little bit as we go along, get him some live [batting practices], face hitters. That’s a little bit different intensity. “
Hyde said no new injuries have been reported.
What’s happened?—Cedric Mullins (Team USA) and Anthony Santander (Team Venezuela) took batting practice against Dean Kremer (Team Israel). The three will be leaving early next month for the World Baseball Classic.
“They’re going to be on a little bit different schedule than everybody else,” Hyde said. “We’ll try to get them ready as fast as we possibly can.”
Kremer is expected to start for Team Israel against Team Nicaragua on March 12th.
“You hope he has a good experience there and pitches well and you hope that everything goes well,” Hyde said. “He comes back healthy. It’s a different schedule for those guys, especially Dean.”
Non-roster left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez will join Santander on Team Venezuela.
Starters Kyle Gibson, Cole Irvin and Austin Voth threw bullpen sessions, as did relievers Bryan Baker, Mychal Givens, Joey Krehbiel and non-roster reliever Eduard Bazardo.
Drew Rom, a left-handed starter who’s in his first major league camp, and minor leaguers Cade Povich and Chris Vallimont also threw.
Hyde likes what he has seen from Rule 5 right-hander Andrew Politi but isn’t concerned that if he doesn’t make the Orioles, he would go back to the Boston Red Sox, a team in the American League East.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with a team in our division,” Hyde said. “We’re going to do anything we can for him regardless of the team he goes back to. We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’s going to have all the resources available to try to get better.
“We’re going to see if he’s major league ready to help our club. We Rule 5’d him because we like the talent. Let’s see if he fits on our roster. We’re deeper than we’ve been in the past. That’s a great thing. We do feel he has major league stuff.”
What’s up with? Kyle Dowdy signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on December 19th. Dowdy was 2-1 with a 7.25 ERA in 13 games with Texas in 2019 and threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings for Cincinnati last season.
“Their pitch this offseason was incredibly thorough,” Dowdy said. “A lot of things that I haven’t thought of before … You look around the team, it’s a really exciting young group, a lot of success so far. Hopefully, can be part of it and help out any way possible.
“They’ve made a huge leap forward in the tech revolution, brought in some great infrastructure and they’re really implementing it well, great communication between coaching staff and players, easy give and take … It’s a really good repartee so far.”
What’s what? Even though the position players aren’t required to report until Monday, it’s a positive that almost all of them are here already. Many of the players went from the Birdland Caravan two weeks ago to Sarasota to train.
What’s the word? “We’d like to see him make the club if possible. Because he’s a former Red Sox [prospect], we’re not going to hide the ball from him.”-Hyde on Politi
What’s the number? 58. That’s the number of players the Orioles used last season.
“You want to be around a lot of other really good players because iron sharpens iron,” Dowdy said. “They’re going to make you better. They’re going to push you further and winning is obviously way more fun than losing and to do it in the best division in baseball is going to be a lot of fun.”