SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday that the bulk of the final spring training cuts, and perhaps all of them, will be made before the club leaves Sarasota. He said the Orioles haven’t talked about bringing extra players to Boston besides the taxi squad.
“There are things that could happen,” he said, “but we haven’t even had those discussions yet.”
The camp roster still holds 44 players and must get down to 26.
“We still have a lot of cuts to make and we still have a lot of guys to pick from,” Hyde said. “We’re just kind of starting those conversations now.”
Some of the non-roster invites remaining in camp appear to be easy calls, and pitchers John Means and Dillon Tate will be placed on the injured list, but the Orioles might be waiting to decide on a backup first baseman and whether it simply involves moving some players from other positions.
Josh Lester had an RBI single last night in his only at-bat and Ryan O’Hearn reached on an infield hit in the ninth inning to go 1-for-2 off the bench.
Grayson Rodriguez is trying to nail down the last spot in the rotation. The club isn’t prepared to make that call, either.
"We're still evaluating, honestly," Hyde said. "We still have other guys who are rotation candidates, also, so we're going to make that decision at the end."
* Cedric Mullins hit his first home run last night, in his return from the World Baseball Classic. A three-run shot over the center field fence in the second inning.
Mullins played in important games last September while the Orioles remained in the wild card chase, but nothing could compare to the WBC’s intensity.
“Those games out there felt that I could feel it in my chest,” he said. “It was one of those moments where, the crowd was so involved throughout the entire game and just the energy that they brought carried throughout the entire stadium.”
Astros second baseman José Altúve fractured his thumb after being hit by a pitch and Mets closer Edwin Díaz tore a tendon in his right knee, injuries that wouldn’t deter Mullins from playing again in the WBC or endorsing it to others.
“Playing sports in general is just one of those things where a freak accident can happen,” he said. Obviously, you don’t wish that upon anybody for any reason. It’s just one of the subtle risks of playing baseball in general. It could happen in spring training, also. It’s a very unfortunate incident if it does, but we play hard all time, so it’s just one of those things that happens.”
* MLB Pipeline again has ranked the Orioles’ farm system as No. 1 in baseball, marking the fourth time in a row between preseason and midseason lists.
The Orioles and Padres are tied for the most since the site began posting these rankings in 2015.
Gunnar Henderson is No. 1 overall while he retains his eligibility. Rodriguez is No. 7 in the top 100, shortstop Jackson Holliday is No. 12, outfielder Colton Cowser is No. 40, infielder Jordan Westburg is No. 74, outfielder Heston Kjerstad is No. 80, left-hander DL Hall is No. 97, and shortstop Joey Ortiz is No. 99.
A scout from outside the organization who tracks the Orioles during the season and in spring training said this is the biggest collection of talent he’s seen in the system in his dozen or so years writing up reports. He wasn’t sold on Ortiz’s offensive skill set last season but has changed his mind, now convinced that the 2019 fourth-round pick will hit.
The scout had rated 21-year-old infielder Darell Hernaiz ahead of Ortiz in the system. The Orioles traded Hernaiz to the Athletics for left-hander Cole Irvin.
Like others in the industry, the scout wonders how the Orioles are going to create room in the infield and outfield for prospects who might debut this summer, including Ortiz, Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby, Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad. He mentioned that Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías are potential fits for multiple clubs if they become available.
* In case you missed last night's update, Urías was scratched from the lineup after taking a ground ball off his right thumb during batting practice.
Just a bruise, which shouldn't impact his spot on the Opening Day roster.
* Hyde’s 13-year-old daughter Addison was introduced to the crowd and worked her first game yesterday, tasked with bringing new baseballs to plate umpire Will Little.
Older brother Colton is often around the team, serving as bat boy and taking ground balls with the other infielders. Looks pretty smooth at shortstop.
Addison finally got a chance to be in the dugout.
“Loved it,” Hyde said. “My son’s always with me, and so to have her never be in the dugout before and to experience being the ball girl after a long day at school, I think she got a little fatigued there at the end. But I loved having her in there and hope to do it again.
“I think her first step was good, but she’s a little sore from volleyball, so that might have impacted her time to the umpire and back.”
Hyde asked Addison if she wanted to talk to the media. She took a few steps toward the group, and he laughed and said, “No, I’m joking, I’m joking.”
She’s trustworthy on the job and also fearless.
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