Austin Hays on '24 O's: "Positivity is really high right now"

There is always excitement for Opening Day and that is being felt today in Baltimore. But it’s more than one-day excitement here and players say they feel it from the local fans.

Birdland as a whole and fans in Baltimore and beyond are fired up for the 2024 season, eager to see if the Orioles can repeat as American League East champs.

“Positivity is really high right now,” outfielder Austin Hays said this morning in the clubhouse. “There is a different buzz in the city. Social media, just anywhere you go. You go to the grocery store right now and there a lot of people excited for the season to start. It is really great to feel that positivity from the city behind us.”

As the Orioles begin their 71st season today, Hays said the organization is very healthy and talented, from the majors to the farm.

“I think the most impressive thing about our spring training is when you didn’t have our starters, you had a lot of guys not on the road and young guys that hadn’t seen a whole lot. But there just wasn’t a huge gap between your starters and maybe your B squad or whatever people like to call it.

“It’s filled out now throughout the minor leagues," Hays said. "There are a lot of stars in the making. That is why the spring record was so good. When guys here for years weren’t playing, those young guys were showing out and putting up good numbers. The organization is in a really good spot.”

The starting outfield is ready for another season together with Hays in left, Cedric Mullins in center and Anthony Santander in right field this afternoon.

“We (he and Mullins) were talking last night," Hays said. "Little less nervousness this year and just true excitement and happiness. We get to do it again this year. We’ve put ourselves in a really good spot and now we just have to take care of business.”

He added that the rebuilding days and all the losing seem so much farther back in the rear-view now.

“We don’t talk too much about the bad days anymore,” he said. “Just the state of where we are at now. How positive things are. Just a joy to come to work now and be in an outfield with those guys."

And asked about all the rough times he and some of his teammates have been through to emerge on the winning side, Hays seemed to make a case today for the front office to try to keep this group together.

“I’ve seen a lot of turnover, a lot of change. The guys that you are looking at now in this locker room, it’s a good core here," Hays said. "I hope we don’t change too much. Hope we are all playing together for a long time. Think what Hyder (manager Brandon Hyde) and (executive vice president and general manager Mike) Elias have is pretty special. We can all be really good together for a long time. Hope we don’t see too much more change."

Hays was asked about David Rubenstein, who heads up the new ownership group that is now in charge and held a press conference here today.

“He is a local guy. He has the best interests of the team at heart," Hays responded. "That is why he purchased the team. He is Baltimore through and through. Having a man like that be in charge of all of us, looking forward to see how he runs this team. Because he has a really good track record and I think he is going to do great things for us."

As for Rubenstein, here are a few of his comments from today at a press conference in the B&O warehouse.

“Baltimore has a closer relationship with its team than, I think, any other city does in the country," said Rubenstein, a Baltimore native. "The team represents the character, the soul, the grit, the personality of this city in a way that is not really true of any other baseball team and its city.

“I hope what can happen is the Orioles can, by winning, by unifying this city, by recovering the kind of greatness that it had in 1966 or 1970, we can win a World Series again.

“Nobody ever won a World Series with a fan base that didn’t care about the team. You need fans who are dedicated and who care about the team, and that is what we have, and we’re going to have it even more, I hope."

Added Rubenstein: “I really want to say to Baltimore, this is a new day, a new chapter. We’ve had challenges in the past but we are looking forward. I want to thank John Angelos and his family, particularly his mother, Georgia, who I met with recently. John Angelos decided it was a good time for a new chapter and I thank him for doing so."

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