SARASOTA, Fla. - The arrival of another Sunday signals a third round of roster cuts.
A pattern has developed with reductions the past two Sundays. There could be four or five players optioned or reassigned this morning.
Forty-six players remain in camp. Pitcher Gregory Infante never reported and continues to seek treatment in Miami for an undisclosed illness.
Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias will keep checking the waiver wire, especially as players exercise opt-out clauses in their contracts this week.
“If there’s something compelling, we’re going to do it and it might throw an unexpected wrench into our roster decisions,” Elias said.
“Brandon (Hyde) and I have continued to talk and we want to really delay final roster decisions as much as possible because we’re still gleaning information and we’re cognizant of the fact that all of that stuff is going to happen over the next seven days.”
Is there one specific area that occupies most of Elias’ roster focus?
“First of all, we’re just looking for talent upgrades, so if it happens at any position, we’ll take a look at it,” he said. “But I would say pitching depth would be an area that we could use. The problem is everyone else always feels that way around the league. It’s not just us, so I don’t know the degree to which starting pitching depth will come available on the waiver wire or the minor league free agent landscape. But that would be an area that I would prioritize if so.”
Remaining decisions as the Orioles pare down the roster also are complicated, in a good way, by the level of play at certain positions.
“The players have been great,” Elias said. “They’ve been playing hard, a lot of energy. One of our goals this offseason was to upgrade the defense a little bit, add some defensive versatility and athleticism, and I feel like we’ve pretty much been able to do that, especially considering how modest the acquisitions were. Minor league deals, Rule 5 picks, waiver claims, that sort of thing.
“I just like the fact that we’ve provided ourselves some options to improve the defense a little bit. Overall I can’t say enough about how good the approach has been from the players here in terms of getting after it.”
The data funneled to them is being met favorably in all corners of the clubhouse. Players are receptive and noting the various gains made because of it.
“They’re excited that this is coming in this organization,” Elias said. “They’ve seen other teams do it. It affects them because if the other teams are using it against them and they don’t have anything to combat them with, it affects their performance and their stats, and so they’re hungry for it, they’re eager for it.
“I would stress that we’re just getting started on this front. Sig Mejdal and his staff are building tools that take a long time to build and it’s something that’s going to be a theme over the next year and even beyond, but we’re going as fast as possible and we’ve already gotten started a little bit.”
Mejdal returned to Baltimore over the weekend to start working with the new hires in the analytics department.
I wrote on Feb. 18 that the Orioles brought in Michael Weis as a new data analyst and more hires were coming later in the month. The Orioles have been busy back home as well as in Sarasota.
* Mike Wright gets a rematch today with the Yankees after they ended his scoreless streak at 10 innings in Tampa.
Wright allowed two runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings after tossing three scoreless frames in back-to-back appearances.
Right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga is starting for the Yankees.