Mike Devereaux spent 12 years in the majors and played everywhere in the outfield, with center his most dominant position. He climbed fences and crashed the late-night highlights after arriving in Baltimore in 1989, when the Orioles shocked the industry by going from historically worst to contending until the final weekend.
Devereaux worked as a guest instructor at spring training in February and was struck by some similarities with this year’s club, which began its series in San Francisco last night with the third-best record in baseball and serious intent to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“I got to meet these guys and I can see the confidence within them, and I can obviously see the talent,” he said this week. “They’re a young team, kind of like in ’89, and you see the drive. I had a feeling, and I told them, when Mike (Elias) said this is not a rebuilding year anymore, it changed everything. It’s like, ‘we’re ready to start winning.’”
The Orioles must keep it going while Cedric Mullins is on the injured list with a strained right groin muscle.
An impressive collection of players have skillfully patrolled center for the Orioles, most notably Hall of Famer Paul Blair, and Devereaux ranks Mullins highly on the all-time list.
“He’s one of the great defensive center fielders,” Devereaux said. “Last year, my son (Michael) got to meet him. He’s left-handed, too. And I told Cedric, ‘you know the way you play, I make sure my son watches you and I want him to understand the game of baseball the way you play it.’ That’s the way I feel about Ced.
“Just the way he goes about the game. You never see him slacking, he’s always hustling, cutting balls off, hitting hard, hitting for power, hitting both ways, aggressive running the bases. You don’t see a lot of guys like that. He’s top of the line in my book.”
Devereaux, 60, watches as many Orioles games as he can when he’s free to do so, or he’ll check the highlights in the morning. He came up in the Dodgers organization and finished his 12-year career with them, and also played for the White Sox, Braves and Rangers. He won a World Series with Atlanta in 1995. But the seven years in Baltimore, including his return with the 1996 playoff team, forever tie him to the franchise.
The Orioles inducted Devereaux into their Hall of Fame in 2021 and brought him to camp this spring. And now, they have something else for him to do.
Devereaux said the Orioles reached out to him about a week ago with the idea of having him serve as a third man in the MASN booth for the July 14-16 series against the Marlins and the Aug. 8-10 series against the Astros at Camden Yards.
“I was immediately interested,” he said.
“It’s not something I always wanted to do, but it’s something I wouldn’t mind doing. I’m available, I’m excited to do it, and see how it is. I see guys, I listen to them all the time, and it seems like they’re having fun. And it’s great to be a part of that.”
The experience will be a first for Devereaux, who’s more accustomed to playing and teaching the sport than discussing it over the airwaves.
“I really don’t know what it’s going to be like,” he said. “I’ve been up in the booth for an inning or two and things like that. As far as the guys doing it, I know them. And it is talking about baseball. I’ve been following the team and I love the team, I love the organization and the city. So, we’ll see how it goes. I have no idea.”
Devereaux returned to the organization in 2010 as Single-A Delmarva’s field coach, after Ryan Minor was promoted to manager. He held the same role the following season with high Single-A Frederick.
The ensuing years saw Devereaux serve as hitting coach at various levels of the Rockies and Reds’ systems, and he worked as a roving hitting/outfield and baserunning instructor for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The pandemic kept Devereaux at his home near Tampa, but he’s able to combine baseball and family. Two of his loves.
Devereaux coaches his son Michael, who turned 12 yesterday, on travel ball teams. Daughter Adianne, who’s 10, plays tennis.
“It was kind of hard to get away from that, from coaching in minor league baseball for 11 years and I was always in and out of town, summers I was gone,” he said. “I decided just to stay home with my family.”
He won’t mind coming to Baltimore a few times later in the summer.
One of Devereaux’s former teammates, closer Gregg Olson, provided commentary last month for the MASN broadcast in Toronto and will be the third man in the booth for the Aug. 28-30 series against the White Sox at Camden Yards.