SARASOTA, Fla. – Do not fall in love with spring training or September stats. Managers have warned us about it for centuries. Or at least since I’ve been a full-time beat reporter in 1997.
The same rule or sage advice applies to overreactions on the negative side. Do not fall out of love.
Here are a few examples, beginning with a hitter who left camp to play in the World Baseball Classic.
Outfielder Anthony Santander
Santander was hitless in 10 at-bats before joining Team Venezuela in Miami. He went 0-for-2 Monday as the first baseman.
Is anyone worried about Santander after six exhibition games? After he hit 33 home runs last season? Don’t be silly.
If you seek some comfort, Santander drew five walks and struck out only once for a .000/.375/.000 line. Embrace the weirdness.
Also, appreciate how smooth he looked at first base, a position he hadn't played since 2016 in A ball. Nothing awkward or robotic. Was in the right spots, dug out a throw and handled ground balls like a natural.
A flexible roster can stretch a little farther.
Catcher James McCann
There is no backup catcher competition. McCann was acquired from the Mets, with two more years of team control, to sub for Adley Rutschman.
McCann is 1-for-11 after hitting .195 with a .538 OPS last summer in 61 games. His struck out five times this spring with no walks. Sort of a Santander reverse spin that’s left him with a .091/.091/.091 line.
Embrace the weirdness.
Pitchers love throwing to McCann. Manager Brandon Hyde offers big compliments, and he gets asked about McCann frequently. Story ideas are staggered within the beat.
Whose turn is it?
“He’s willing to share information and he communicates so well with our guys,” Hyde said. “He speaks up in meetings. He’s working really well with the catching corps, also, but he’s also a guy that’s caught some really good pitchers over the course of his career. And he’s got a lot of knowledge.”
Veteran Kyle Gibson talked about how well McCann understands the game and how to attack hitters. In other words, he can help the Orioles in ways beyond what he does in the box.
Meanwhile, the Orioles fully expect the former All-Star to produce better offensive numbers this season if he stays healthy. What’s happened in Florida doesn’t change it.
Second baseman Adam Frazier
Frazier has appeared in five games and gone 1-for-12. What happens next?
Hyde keeps giving him starts at second base and appreciating the versatility that also allows the veteran to move to the outfield. He’s on the club. The numbers don’t influence anything.
It’s that simple, really.
Numbers, by the way, that includes an .083/.083/.083 line.
Please, I beg you, embrace the weirdness.