The Orioles wrapped up their annual minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., with the usual perks, including new coaches getting acclimated to the Ed Smith Stadium complex and the staff checking on pitchers who are making adjustments intended to improve their results in 2020.
Chris Holt, promoted to director of pitching, described the camp as consisting of “three solid, intensive days.” A nice head start to spring training, which begins in three weeks.
“It’s really a special group of coaches who are here,” Holt said last week while calling into the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“The No. 1 thing is that everybody is getting to know each other. I think having a healthy coaches’ room definitely supports a healthy clubhouse with the players, and we believe heavily that when we’re all working together in the right direction and share the same voice and share the same belief systems and those things, we’re all working in the right direction. So these meetings are huge for that.
“Truly, we have a lot of experience in this room, and we’re going to utilize everybody’s strengths.
The pitching roll call included David Hess, Branden Kline and Shawn Armstrong - the first vying for a spot in the rotation and the others trying to fit into what’s expected to be an eight-man bullpen.
“We had a great minicamp,” Holt said. “We had a few pitchers come down, six total. All had very specific things they were working on, and without getting into those bullet points right now, everybody came in with a hunger to learn and really put in solid focus to the work. And left here after three solid, intensive days with things to go back and have in their toolbox for the rest of the offseason before they come into camp.
“David Hess came down, Kliner came down, Armstrong, all these guys had work on their deliveries that was very crucial to them being able to access their best pitches consistently to quality locations. It was really, really solid work and a solid work ethic and very engaged sessions with those guys.
“I think the important thing to remember is we have some very talented guys who are on the big league team that are also working very hard to improve their game and, whether they have years in the big leagues or have been up and down over the last couple of years, we have some very hard workers right now doing really good things again.”
The rotation lost 161 2/3 innings and 30 starts with the Dylan Bundy trade last month, which netted four minor league pitchers from the Angels. They must be located somewhere else.
“The thing that comes to mind is we have a lot of guys that are very talented, very hungry, very eager to perform, and I have no doubt in my mind that these guys will step up and work to establish themselves,” Holt said.
“In terms of worrying where innings are coming from and all that, I really don’t think that applies so much as seeing who’s really going to step up and raise the level of their game and the consistency in the level of their game to meet those goals.”
While his most important work will be done on the minor league side, where he served last year as pitching coordinator, Holt will have more of an influence on the major league staff. He’s going to be teaming more with pitching coach Doug Brocail.
“We actually have a great relationship,” he said. “Darren Holmes, the new bullpen coach, the three of us have been down in Sarasota getting to know each other and work with each other. Everything’s been excellent. We’re all on the same page with development goals and how we’re going about our work, so I envision things carrying on the way they’ve been initially here.
“We’re all equally passionate about developing pitchers and certainly enjoy utilizing everybody’s strengths in the group.”
The minicamp was an important time for Holt to become more familiar with Holmes, who already knew Brocail and reached out to him as the first step toward getting an interview with the Orioles. Holmes later spoke with Holt.
“Darren Holmes is a very passionate pitching coach,” Holt said. “He’s really interested in players and getting to know them and really being the best resource he possibly can at the big league level. I mean, his track record speaks for itself. He was the bullpen coach in Colorado for the last five years and did really, really good work out there.
“In terms of him going through the interview process, I think he understands how detailed our process is and what goes into our preparation, so he’s definitely a great guy to have on board and we’re really excited about him.”