Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is 1-for-11 with an infield hit and five strikeouts in three Dominican Winter League games. He hasn’t gotten a ball to the outfield.
At this rate, the Orioles will be able to sign him to a minor league deal with a spring training invite.
I had a nice conversation a few nights ago with former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles. He’s looking to get back into the organization where he played from 1989-1998. And he’s pretty much willing to work in any capacity.
Hoiles sees former teammates like Mike Bordick, Brady Anderson, Ryan Minor, Leo Gomez and Mike Devereaux (who accepted a minor league coaching position with the Rockies last month) land jobs with the Orioles, and he’d like the same opportunity. He’s happy for them. He’d be even happier to rejoin the fraternity.
Hoiles has been trying for years, and he’s been making a stronger push since resigning as manager of the independent York Revolution in August 2009 - one season after leading them to the playoffs.
“The job I’d really enjoy is working in-game with pitchers and catchers, and with the pitching coaches, and having a plan before the games like we used to do. Go over the opposition and have a game plan, and then work with them in-game, talk to them,” Hoiles said. “I could help with their hitting, too. I think I have a lot to offer with that.
“There’s a lot more to being a good catcher than just going out and catching. You’ve got to learn to separate offense from defense and work with the pitchers. That would be something that I’d be very interested in doing, especially at the minor league level - working with the young catchers throughout the organization, working with the draft picks they get in June, talking to them about professional baseball. A lot changes from high school or college, the lifestyle. I’d be able to talk to them about a lot of different stuff.”
The Orioles would have to create a position for Hoiles, just as they’re doing for Anderson, whose duties now include training, hitting and outfield instruction and scouting. Don Werner serves as the organization’s minor league catching instructor, but Hoiles’ ideas would allow the two to coexist without any toes being crushed.
“It can be done,” said Hoiles, who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2006. “I think there’s a real need for that, especially with the young pitchers and young catchers. They’re the battery of the team. That’s where everything starts. If that runs smoothly, everything runs smoothly. Down in the minor leagues is where it starts. Hopefully, one of these days they get up to the majors, and they’ve been taught well in the minors.”
Hoiles, the only catcher Mike Mussina wanted behind the plate when he pitched, wants to do his part to bring the organization back to prominence. He doesn’t know what’s available at this time, or if anyone will listen. He’s reached out to team officials in the past. He’ll continue to do it.
“I want to come back and help out,” he said. “I’d love to get a position in the organization and bring it back to where it was. That’s my main focus, to get the Orioles back to their winning ways, what it used to be like.”
Hoiles, who will be signing autographs this weekend at FanFest, is a link to the last two playoff teams in 1996 and 1997. It’s hard for him to accept that the club hasn’t posted a winning record since the wire-to-wire season.
“Yeah, as a former player it does bother me. I feel like I have a lot to offer and I feel like I can help out these young kids with my knowledge and experience,” he said.
“One of the things when I played, we had a lot of ex-Orioles come into the clubhouse. One of the biggest things for me was being able to talk to a guy like Boog Powell on the hitting side. I talked to Boog probably every day. We’d have a cup of coffee and hang out before I had to go back to work. I’d pick his brain about hitting, how to become a better power hitter, a better RBI guy. If he said 10 things and I could use one of them to better myself as a hitter, that’s what it’s all about.
“I’d talk to Palmer, Flanny, Tippy, Bumbry. I didn’t hesitate to pick their brains on how to be a better player. Nowadays, you don’t have that.
“I’ve been in that organization and I know it inside and out.”
Hoiles is tired of being on the outside. He keeps knocking on the door and waiting for it to open.