Players need to take stock

There isn't anyone who saw this coming. The Orioles' slow start is shocking and disappointing. The team that broke spring training was expected to be competitive - and still can be. But the players have to take stock and step it up in all phases of the game, especially with their approach.

Physical mistakes are part of the game and happen to every team. But the Orioles have hurt themselves in this early part of the season with too many mental mistakes. It's time to refocus and increase the intensity.

The one phase of the game that every individual player can control is hustle. There is no reason not to go all-out on every play.

On the 0-6 home stand there were several instances of players not running balls out through first base. Running 75 feet down the first base line and making a right turn to return to the dugout not only isn't acceptable, it shouldn't be tolerated by the players. And if any player objects to hearing that, they should ask themselves how it looks to their opponents and to the fans when they don't appear to be going all-out.

There's no reason ever to not go all-out. It suggests defeat before the game is over. And in contrast, by always going all-out you let your opponent know that they are in for a game and they can't beat you simply by showing more hustle and purpose. The O's need to show their hustle and drive on every play.

I completely understand how frustrating a losing streak can be. The players are professionals and have enormous pride. But that's when they should step up their game, not show their frustrations. Don't allow baserunning mistakes to happen. Be aggressive, but be smart. Take the sure out on defense. Hit the cut-off man. Don't allow an opponent to take an extra base. Be smart and be prepared. And go all-out for all 27 outs.

Winning teams have players that do their jobs all-out every game for the overall good of the team.

I still believe this is a good ballclub. And I still believe the Orioles will win a lot of games this season. There's plenty of baseball left to be played, and the O's will have an impact in the AL East this season. But first, the players have to come together and do whatever is necessary to break out of this early season slump and move forward.

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