SARASOTA, Fla. - Brandon Hyde called them into his office one at a time. Eight players sent out of major league camp in the latest round of roster cuts.
Always tough conversations for veteran and first-year managers.
Outfielders Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, pitchers Yefry Ramirez, Cody Carroll and Branden Kline, and infielder Stevie Wilkerson were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk this morning. Pitcher Gabriel Ynoa and infielder Christopher Bostick were reassigned to minor league camp.
“All those guys had great springs,” Hyde said. “We were so excited about the springs that they had. It’s never easy to send anybody out, but I think the guys were great in our meetings this morning. I’m just looking for them, whatever level they go to, to continue what they did here and that’s open our eyes, impress, play as hard as they did when they were here. Hopefully build off the success they had in big league camp. Just looking forward hopefully to all those guys being here at some point this year.”
Hyde and executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias spent part of the morning explaining how the mandate to compete for jobs in camp didn’t spare players who put up statistics worthy of inclusion on the opening day roster.
“We’re going to always do what’s best for the player,” Hyde said. “When it’s a prospect-type player, their development is the most important thing and when you’re talking about some of those guys you’re talking about guys that in our eyes haven’t quite finished their development. And they’re so close to knocking on this door.
“They exceeded expectations while they were here in big league camp, they played great. Now it’s go down there and do what you did when you were here and hopefully see you soon.
“Not all of those guys have played in Triple-A. Their development track is a little off in that some guys got rushed to the big leagues and skipped over levels, so we’re just trying to get their body of work in the minors a little bit bigger, get a little bit more experience in the minor leagues, succeed and then come here and help us.”
Is Hyde concerned about the perception that the Orioles sent mixed messages to these players?
“You want guys to compete,” he replied. “I don’t think it’s mixed. With our conversations today, I felt like they went really well. And these are the decisions that organizations have to make. I think when they know and they trust that we’re doing it for the best interests for them, then it comes off the right way. I firmly believe that.
“We’re doing it in the best interest for them and their development, so when they get here they don’t ever go back and they can establish themselves as major league players. And we felt like that was necessary for those guys.”
The importance of making the opening day roster can be exaggerated. Players arriving a little later are set up to contribute throughout the summer.
“If you look at the majority of major league rosters last year on opening day, a lot changes. It looks a lot different in June,” Hyde said.
“There’s always this deadline of opening day and it’s really a special day, like we’ve talked about. It’s a big deal to be on the opening day roster. At the same time, it’s one of 162 and there’s six months to go and some guys are going to impact our club who aren’t going to be on the opening day roster. That’s just the way it kind of falls.”
The camp roster is down to 39 players, though pitcher Gregory Infante never reported due to an illness and remains in Miami.
“As our numbers get down a little bit lower, you’re going to see guys get more at-bats, you’re going to see guys kind of get a little bit more ready,” Hyde said. “More back-to-backs, longer during the games, as we piece together what that 25-man is going to look like.
“I really didn’t know what to expect from a lot of these guys coming here. What I saw out of some of our young guys, fans are going to be really excited about them. There are a lot of exciting things coming and I think that they’re going to be special players, so I really liked what I saw in spring training from these guys.”
Catcher Austin Wynns still isn’t ready to get back in the lineup, and the catching competition, due to an oblique injury.
“Wynns is getting closer,” Hyde said. “He was on the back fields just doing some defensive stuff. Been in the cage a little bit. I’m hoping maybe next week some point. It’s a tricky deal. The oblique is a tricky injury and you don’t want to have any setbacks, so we’re going to be patient with it.
“Opening day is just a deadline from the standpoint is this is when we start, but we’re not going to rush anything for him to be on that day. So it’s really up to him from the standpoint of how he’s feeling, game reps. He still hasn’t taken batting practice on the field. So there’s still a ways to go and then we’ll make that decision as we get closer.”
Hyde hasn’t decided whether to go with 12 or 13 pitchers breaking camp.
Luke Voit hit a two-run homer off Mike Wright in the first inning to give the split-squad Yankees a 2-0 lead. Wright threw 18 pitches in the inning and got into immediate trouble on Kyle Holder’s leadoff single.
The Orioles failed to turn a double play on Miguel Andújar’s sharp ground ball to third baseman Rio Ruiz. Jonathan Villar’s throw pulled Chris Davis off the bag and Voit followed with his full-count shot to left-center field.
Upcoming Orioles starters include Andrew Cashner on Monday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Dylan Bundy on Tuesday against the Twins in Sarasota and David Hess on Wednesday night versus the Red Sox in Sarasota.
The Orioles are listing Jimmy Yacabonis, Nate Karns, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens and Josh Lucas as available relievers behind Cashner. Castro also is listed today.
Update: Andújar led off the third inning with a home run to increase the Yankees’ lead to 3-0.
Update II: Zack Zehner led off the fourth with a long home run to left field to increase the lead to 4-0.