Can’t read too much into a little bit

SARASOTA, Fla. - Trying to detect patterns and search for clues in spring training lineups can be an exercise in futility. Roster crunches of a different sort. Calisthenics that still leave you clueless.

Working up a sweat for a bigger waste.

You get the picture, but maybe not the pitcher.

Austin-Hays-Diving-Catch-Black-Sidebar.jpgManager Brandon Hyde keeps batting Austin Hays in the leadoff spot, but isn’t necessarily showing his hand.

Hanser Alberto batted leadoff again yesterday in the other split-squad game. It’s now happened twice, which could be a sign that he’s the other option, or it’s just a way to get him at-bats before he comes out of the game.

There aren’t a lot of appealing alternatives on the camp roster, but Hyde checks the calendar and politely answers lineup inquires while also reminding everyone that it’s early.

Renato Núñez played third base again yesterday in Sarasota, but this is more about giving him lots of reps at the position to determine whether he can handle it at least on a part-time basis and pry him out of the designated hitter spot.

There’s also the theory that it would increase his value as a trade chip if the Orioles need to clear space for Ryan Mountcastle, whose promotion to the majors seems inevitable over the summer.

Núñez made a backhanded stop near the line yesterday and bounced a throw past Chris Davis, allowing another Tampa Bay run to score.

Stevie Wilkerson is a super-utility player who’s starting in center field when he isn’t in the lineup with Hays. He’s been taking ground balls in the infield, but it’s important to keep noting that someone has to back up in center.

Dwight Smith Jr. isn’t that guy. The Orioles are hoping to see improvement from him in left field.

Cedric Mullins is off to a fast start and center is his primary position, though he also can play the corners. He could be applying some early pressure to Smith.

Trey Mancini batted second again yesterday. Does that mean anything?

Mountcastle has stayed in left field for games - he made a diving catch yesterday in Fort Myers - but he works out at first base. Dilson Herrera returned to first base yesterday while competing for a utility job.

It’s spring training and the Orioles have played five games.

We shouldn’t overthink it. Not yet.

Hyde wanted eight starting candidates in camp and the Orioles have moved past the mark.

“We have 69 guys in camp, so we have options,” he said. “I want to see who are the best options are there at the end of camp. There are a lot of guys we haven’t seen.

“There’s such a long way to go that I don’t even know what we’re going to look like three weeks from now and how they’re going to stack up.”

Is he more confident about how he’s going to fill out the rotation compared to last spring?

“I think that we have more options than what we had last year, or at least what we thought we had last year,” Hyde said. “I think we do have a lot more options right now. I have no idea what our rotation is going to look like, though.

“We’ll wait and see. It’s going to be the next month to figure that out.”

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