SARASOTA, Fla. - The lessons that are distributed in Orioles camp don’t skip past the manager’s office. Brandon Hyde is finding out a lot about his team, the layers of mystery peeled away as the days pass.
“I’ll tell you what, I just like our guys,” Hyde said yesterday while standing in the visiting dugout at Charlotte Sports Park. “I like the way our guys work. I didn’t know what kind of work ethic our guys had. I didn’t know how guys prepared. I didn’t know the makeup of our players besides maybe asking around a little bit.”
This is the second time, at least, that Hyde has verbalized his affection for a group of players buying into what’s preached in camp.
“I think we have a really good group of guys that want to get better, and that was what I was hoping. That’s happened,” Hyde said.
“Our energy in our dugout is way different than it was 10 days ago because I think guys are starting to get comfortable and getting to know each other a little bit more. You see more talking with each other during their work instead of being so worried about themselves. They’re coming out a little bit personality-wise.
“I was hoping that was going to happen. I was nervous about that early after the first few days. I’ve been impressed with how they’ve gone about their business and the work that they’ve put in.”
The bonds that develop contradict any notion that competition brings out the worst in the younger players.
Rule 5 picks Richie Martin and Drew Jackson are roommates and found their teasing comfort zone in the early days of camp. The catchers, with their lockers in a line against the back wall in the clubhouse, offer encouragement and advice. Pitchers on the roster bubble share laughs each morning before heading to the field.
“I’ve seen it a little bit both ways, but I think in this case here guys are pulling for each other and I want to believe it’s because of what we’ve done in camp with making a good atmosphere for them, or trying to at least,” Hyde said.
“I think that there’s some pretty solid friendships that are forming. We talked a lot about the kind of teammates we want to be and I think that’s happening, so I feel really good about that.”
* Left-hander Paul Fry turned in another scoreless inning yesterday against the Rays, running his streak to four. But he earned a visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail.
It came at an odd time.
The meeting was held after Fry got a called third strike on Anthony Bemboom. Brocail bolted from the dugout and hustled to the mound.
Fry stayed in the game and finished what he relieved.
“We just noticed his velo was a little low and it’s that time of camp,” Hyde said. “We just were double-checking with him. He looked fine, he said he was fine. We just decided, ‘Hey, why don’t you just give him a blow and see if everything’s OK.’”
It would take an injury, which isn’t suspected, to keep Fry off the opening day roster. That’s my guess. But the arrival of left-hander Josh Osich amps up the competition.
* Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch yesterday, struck out looking at a breaking ball and grounded to first. He was bound to cool off a little, but he found a way to contribute behind the plate by throwing out Willy Adames, the first runner who’s attempted a stolen base against him this spring.
His defense is going to be scrutinized as determinations are made about whether he’s worthy of again breaking camp with the team. In that regard, Sisco had a good day.
Sisco has a quiet personality that is unusual for a catcher, as people in the organization observed in the past, but he’s becoming more vocal on the field at the urging of Hyde and catching instructor Tim Cossins.
His leadership came into play in the fifth inning after Luis Ortiz loaded the bases with no outs on a single, double and walk.
Adames’ at-bat was interrupted by Sisco’s visit to the mound and an adjustment to Ortiz’s delivery, and what followed were three fly balls to right field, the first two scoring runs. It could have been a lot worse.
“Great job,” Hyde said. “You guys probably can’t hear, but there’s multiple times when he’s verbally saying things out loud to our infield that he wasn’t doing early in camp. He tried to pick behind a guy today, which hit the umpire, so it looked funny, but he’s just doing things aggressively and that’s what we’re trying to get out of him. He’s taking what we’ve been talking a lot about and he’s taking it in the games. He did a great job.”
* The travel roster yesterday included outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who had been reassigned to minor league camp. He was given one at-bat as Yusniel Diaz’s replacement in right field and clubbed a two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Yastrzemski squared up a pitch from Ryne Stanek, one of the Rays’ “openers” last season. We’re not talking minor league mop-up here.
“That was a beautiful swing right there,” Hyde said.
“He played really good defense. He didn’t get the full look as much as I think we’d like. We had so many outfielders. But he played great defense when he went in the game, he always took good at-bats and he gets a pitch to hit off a big league late-inning guy and hits one over the fence.
“So happy for him. It’s got to feel good for him.”