BOSTON - As the Orioles plow through the last six games of the 2018 season, continuing their final road series tonight at Fenway Park, their fall instructional league is humming along and attracting former All-Stars.
I wrote earlier about the separate camps in Sarasota that divide players into traditional baseball activities, strictly hitting and strength-and-conditioning. Former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, inducted this summer into the team’s Hall of Fame, made an appearance yesterday to offer tips on baserunning.
I’ve always been a proponent of tapping into the skill sets of former Orioles, and this is a fine example.
“I just reached out to him and asked if he’d come,” said director of player development Brian Graham. “I know he lives in Sarasota and I’ve heard him talk about baserunning for a number of years. I thought he’d be a great guy to pass along information to these kids, and he was excited about it.
“He came out and spent an hour just talking to the players on the field at first base and talking about baserunning in general, talking about the mentality, talking about decision-making and how to get your leads and just a variety of things to do with baserunning.”
Roberts stole 50 bases in 2007 and 235 in a seven-year period. He scored more than 100 runs in four of six seasons, totaling 92 and 85 in the years that he fell short. He retired with a career .347 on-base percentage.
“The other guys know Brian Roberts and we gave a brief overview of his career and showed them some statistics, which meant a lot to these kids when they saw his numbers,” Graham said. “But most important was he’s a really good communicator. Very articulate, has really good knowledge of baserunning and the things he was saying to them, not only did it resonate, but I think it inspired guys. It made them believe they can run the bases, it made them believe they can steal bases.”
If upgrading the defense is a priority for the Orioles, improving their on-base capabilities and ability to score without sending baseballs over the fence also warrants placement near the top of the list.
Roberts delivered the message yesterday while doing a little name-dropping.
“It’s such an important part of any offensive player’s resume is to be able to get on base and score runs. That’s the most important thing,” Graham said.
“He talked about Mike Trout saying the most valuable part of an offensive player is crossing home plate, and that’s coming from one of the greatest players in the game. Brian Roberts was telling the players that. And he talked about (Cubs manager) Joe Maddon talking about 90 feet. Let’s get 90 feet, let’s get 90 more feet, let’s get 90 more feet.
“Just the communication, the way he explained things. You could tell the players were listening, you could tell the players were soaking it up.”
The instructional league began on Sept. 13 and runs until Oct. 10 at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
“It’s going great,” Graham said. “It’s been an unbelievable camp. The hitting camp has been excellent, the regular instructional league group has been really good and the strength-and-conditioning camp has been really good.
“We’ve pitched really well, we’ve played really good defense. I really liked the way the players are getting after it. There’s a lot of effort going into what we’re doing down here. On the players’ side, they’re working unbelievable hard and there’s results that show up from the hard work.”
* The Orioles are 2-15 against the Red Sox this season. The 15 losses are tied for the second-most in club history, a total they also reached in 2006. They lost 16 games to Boston in 1956 and 2009.
* Last night marked the 15th time that the Orioles didn’t have an extra-base hit, the most in the American League. They’ve scored two runs or fewer in 64 games, tops in the majors.
* The Orioles are 5-58 when allowing at least six runs and have dropped their last 18 games dating back to Aug. 10 against the Red Sox.
* Renato Núñez is 20-for-62 (.323) in 19 games this month.
* Adam Jones’ 104 career RBIs against the Red Sox are the third-most among active players, behind Robinson Cano’s 116 and Evan Longoria’s 106.
* Trey Mancini owns a career .362 (21-for-58) average in 15 games at Fenway Park, along with a .391 on-base percentage and .569 slugging percentage.
* Sean Gilmartin’s four scoreless innings were the most by an Orioles reliever on the road since Vance Worley on July 29, 2016 in Toronto.
* Tim Beckham has scored four runs in his last three games, seven in 10 and 12 in 20.