SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde continues to rotate players at different positions in camp. Heads can spin trying to track them.
Ryan Mountcastle, Chris Bostick and Jace Peterson worked out at third base this morning on the Earl Weaver “Little” Field. Rio Ruiz and Steve Wilkerson moved to first base. Rule 5 picks Richie Martin and Drew Jackson were stationed at shortstop. Zach Vincej and Jack Reinheimer took ground balls at second base.
Hyde is new to the organization and forming his own opinion of Mountcastle’s defense. One of the system’s top position prospects fielded ground balls and made throws from first base yesterday.
“We’re going to keep moving him,” Hyde said. “He’s going to do a little bit of third, a little bit of first. We’re just trying to get our eyes on him. We haven’t seen him play much, and obviously he’s a big piece for us going forward because he’s just such a dynamic offensive player.
“We’re trying to make a fit. I’m trying to get with him as much as possible. We’re going to work hard with him and figure out through this camp where we see him fit. So he’s going to be going a little bit of third, a little bit of first, back-and-forth kind of stuff.”
Reps in the outfield could come later.
“That might be down the road,” Hyde said. “Right now, we really want him to focus on his defense in the infield, and then we’ll make a determination later on.”
Hyde isn’t factoring which positions are blocked or fluid while deciding where to put Mountcastle, the 36th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“I don’t think we’re there with Mountcastle yet,” he said. “There’s still developing that’s still going on. I just want to do whatever’s best for him. Whatever is going to really help him get to the big leagues and be a big league force offensively. We’re just trying to find the right fit for him and get to know him and make some evaluations on his defense as we go along.
“With new coaches and maybe some new ideas, hopefully he gets comfortable and we find a great spot for him.”
Hyde remembers how the Cubs promoted outfield prospect Kyle Schwarber to the majors in 2015 and used him as the designated hitter in six interleague games. Mountcastle is only 22 and Hyde would prefer to keep him in the field.
“I want guys to develop defensively,” he said. “I want guys to be able to play a position, play it well at the big league level. We’re always looking at guys long-term, also. I think development’s obviously really, really important. Development still happens in the big leagues, but I want the guys when they get there to have success, so we’ll look at the big picture when it comes to something like that.”
* Alex Cobb threw two sessions of live batting practice today at Ed Smith Stadium, alternating with Yefry Ramírez. Peterson almost smoked him with a line drive on the first pitch, but he managed to get out of the way.
Pitchers who walked over to the stadium field to watch Cobb, and howl as he dodged the line drive, included Andrew Cashner, Nathan Karns, Dylan Bundy, David Hess, Hunter Harvey, Gabriel Ynoa and Cody Carroll. Cashner sat next to Cobb in the dugout after the second round.
“He looked real good,” said Hyde, who watched from a cart parked near the plate. “I was actually just talking to him. He’s really happy with how he threw the ball. He threw the ball a little better his second time out, the second six minutes. But all positive. Liked the way the ball came out of his hand.”
A normal spring training was needed after Cobb signed in late March last year and struggled in the first half. He’s back in a routine. Back to feeling more like himself.
Cobb hadn’t thrown at Ed Smith Stadium since pitching in a simulated game after the Orioles broke camp and started their season.
“We’ve talked a little bit about his experience from signing late and kind of rushing to get back to the big leagues,” Hyde said. “It’s really great he’s going to have a full camp and be fully ready when camp starts.
“I think it’s got to be challenging. This time is valuable and you can pace yourself to get ready and not rush. For a guy like him that’s going to progress a little bit every week and be in game shape by opening day, the first series of the year, I think it’s super valuable.”
* Reinheimer was hit on the left triceps while taking batting practice and rode in a cart to the trainers’ room. It’s just a contusion. Nothing serious.
* Chris Davis took batting practice on Camden Yards South, the name given to the replica field, and he launched a home run on his final swing, the ball clearing the tall right field fence and bouncing off the metal roof of the indoor batting cage.
* Hyde said he’ll decide later today which pitchers to use in Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.
* Jimmy Yacabonis worked as a starter yesterday with two rounds of live batting practice, but his role is subject to change depending on the needs of the club.
“We’re going to stretch him out and then as our roster kind of comes into play the last couple weeks of spring training, then we’ll make the determination if he’s going to be a long guy in the ‘pen or a starter,” Hyde said. “We’re going to see how our rotation looks at that point.”
* Former Oriole Manny Machado reportedly has landed the biggest free-agent deal in baseball history, agreeing to terms with the Padres on a 10-year contract worth $300 million. It includes an opt-out clause after five years, per reports.
The Padres come to Camden Yards on June 25-26 and the Orioles play a two-game series in San Diego on July 29-30. Lots of chances for ex-teammates to give him hugs and props for the deal - the largest given to a free agent since Davis signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Orioles in January 2016.
* Martin has switched his uniform number from 1 to 82 in order to accommodate Alcides Escobar, who reported to camp earlier today.
* Boog’s BBQ is coming to Sarasota, with fans able to purchase it in the left field pavilion at Ed Smith Stadium beginning on Saturday.
Get your buns over there.
“No trip to Oriole Park at Camden Yards is complete without a stop at Boog’s BBQ, and we are delighted to offer the same experience to fans at Ed Smith Stadium,” Greg Bader, Orioles vice president of communications and marketing, said in a statement. “As an Orioles Community Ambassador, Boog will meet and greet fans on opening day and at selected games throughout the spring training season, just as he does at the ballpark in Baltimore.”
“Over many years, we’ve mastered our unique, award-winning barbecue menu,” Powell said. “I can’t wait to share it with baseball fans at Spring Training in Sarasota.”
Powell’s son, J.W., will operate the stand at Ed Smith Stadium.
Alex Cobb, who could report to camp on time this year, gets his throwing done.
Pedro Araujo works off the mound.