Orioles working to stay together while pushed apart

As the Orioles transformed yesterday's summer training camp workout from batting practice in the cage to live BP sessions for a group of relievers, projected starter Asher Wojciechowski emerged from the home dugout and headed over to the visiting side.

Long hair tied back and a smile on his face as he joined a couple of his teammates. Maybe a chance to feel normal again if only for a few minutes.

Wojciechowski-Flips-Ball-White-sidebar.jpgThere isn't much mingling for the Orioles and other clubs during the pandemic. Pitchers dress in a clubhouse normally reserved for the opponent. Position players and pitchers are granted access to the field at different times.

Eating meals together at tables inside the dining area?

Chilling in the lounge or piling into the trainers' room?

Not anymore.

Interactions are limited and intended to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. The bonding process needed to happen in Florida and via video conference calls and more traditional phone conversations.

"It is odd," manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday during his Zoom session with the media. "I was thinking about that this morning. It's tough to build chemistry when you're so spread out, you're in different clubhouses and the comradery part of this. I think the intrasquads are going to really help and we're going to do some fun competition stuff during that time. But to get everybody on the field at once, even though we are in separate clubhouses ...

"I think our guys are doing a pretty good job of intermingling safely. Our guys have used an app this whole time where they're talking constantly, a group-kind of chat. And I feel like some of these guys, they told me it's brought the club even closer together. So I think they've continued that.

"I know they had a meeting amongst themselves a couple days ago, which I think is fantastic. So even though we're not all on the field at the same place or the same time, as well as being in the clubhouse, we're going to do the best we can to try to keep that chemistry and the camaraderie that we had going in spring training, as well as the culture that we started last year. I felt like (it) was a real positive part of our season. I'd like to obviously continue that.

"That is a little bit of a challenge, being so spread out. We're going to do the best we can and hopefully these intrasquads with more guys on the field at once help out with that, also."

They also can discuss the 2020 schedule if the subject hasn't already come up.

Major League Baseball will release it later today, with the Orioles confined to their division for 40 games and the National League East for 20.

The expectation is an easing of travel by keeping visiting teams in a city for multiple series. For instance, the Orioles could go back-to-back against the Yankees and Mets in New York. Other clubs in the Central Divisions could go back-to-back against the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago.

Grouping Oakland and San Francisco makes sense in the West.

The 2021 schedule also is expected to be released this week. Hopefully a full 162 games following a spring training with no interruptions.

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