SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have completed their second day of workouts, with two players still unable to participate.
Severino arrived in camp yesterday wearing a mask. But not the kind he’s going to use when he’s behind the plate.
Alex Cobb threw with the first group and manager Brandon Hyde remains encouraged about the veteran’s availability on opening day.
“I talked to him about it after,” Hyde said. “He feels great. I think the real positive sign is I love the way his curveball looks. I think that it’s something he’s been working on to be comfortable throwing that pitch. Threw a bunch of really good ones today.
“It was a tough year for him last year, but he’s recovering great and our goal is to keep him healthy all season.”
Cobb was supposed to make his first opening day start last year before landing on the injured list with discomfort that later required hip surgery. He also underwent a procedure on his knee.
His season ended after three April starts, but the ominous signs cropped up in camp.
“I think he’s dealt with these things before, so I don’t think it’s anything new to come back from an injury,” Hyde said. “We had our meeting with him this morning and he’s realistic. We just want to keep him healthy. Anything we can do to keep him healthy, we’re going to do. But he’s in a good frame of mind right now and looked great today.”
Camp is set up to get players ready for the season, but also to allow for a peek at the prospects.
“When you see young guys throw their first sides, especially guys in their first big league camps, there’s probably a lot of nerves. There’s a lot of adrenaline,” Hyde said.
“I think our job as coaches is almost to pull back a little bit. It’s Feb. 13. You’re not going to make the team in your first side session, right? So you’re just trying to have them try to feel their delivery, work on throwing strikes, feel the shape of their pitches and continue to improve as camp goes on.”
Hyde and his staff also could check on the pitchers who adjusted their workouts over the winter. David Hess comes to mind after he visited Premier Pitching & Performance in St. Louis, the same facility that changed John Means’ professional life.
(I wrote about it here in December)
“Again, it’s the first side, but I did notice little things mechanics-wise in their deliveries, things we had talked about, things we talked about with them after the season as well as throughout the offseason,” Hyde said.
“I think the minicamps we did this winter benefitted a lot of guys. Got a great response with a lot of our pitchers. Don’t want to put too much stock in the first day, but I think you’re going to see some mechanics changes over the course of spring.”
Wade LeBlanc, who threw yesterday, already made a nice impression on Hyde while vying for a spot in the rotation. The veteran is viewed only as a starter in camp.
“We talked and I think it was, I don’t remember if it was 13 or 16 big league spring trainings, a year in Japan,” Hyde said.
“I’ve seen Wade a lot. He was in Pittsburgh a couple years when I was in Chicago. We saw him in Seattle last year. So he’s had a great career. And for a guy to be able to hang on and pitch how he’s pitched throughout his whole career and continue to do it is special and we don’t have a whole lot of guys like that in this camp, so it’s fun to have him here.”
Hyde became familiar with reliever Travis Lakins after the right-hander made four consecutive appearances against the Orioles last summer while pitching for the Red Sox as a rookie. He allowed one earned run (two total) and struck out five batters in 5 1/3 innings.
“I love his stuff,” Hyde said. “I don’t know what the numbers were against us, but I remember talking with Broc (Doug Brocail) during the game when he was pitching against us and being really impressed with his stuff, a guy that they just called up from Pawtucket. Another really good bullpen arm they had. I was like, ‘This guy’s got really good stuff.’
“When he was designated I was excited and I was hoping that we would get him. He’s got a really nice pitch mix. He’s a tough kid. I love the makeup already. And so I think that he’s going to come in here and compete. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Position players who reported early worked out on the stadium field, with Ryan Mountcastle taking ground balls at first base.
Outfielders Trey Mancini, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart and Dwight Smith Jr. also are here, along with infielders José Iglesias, Richie Martin, Rio Ruiz, José Rondón and Pat Valaika.
“We had a hungry group of position players last year,” Hyde said. “I thought our guys played with energy, I loved the way our guys worked. I’m not surprised a lot of them are here. It’s kind of in their personality, and great to see Iglesias this morning. So, yeah, it doesn’t surprise me because I think they’re all real high-character guys that are looking forward to get going here.”
Mountcastle said he brought three gloves to camp, knowing he’ll also work out at third base and in the outfield. He could get a look in right field, which would be his fifth position since the Orioles drafted him.
“We’ll see within the next couple days,” he said. “I’m sure once everybody reports they’ll let me know where they want me to play. But for right now, first base, left field, third base, those are all the ones I played last year.”
Does he arrive with thoughts of making the team out of spring training or getting ready for the Triple-A season and an eventual promotion to the majors?
“I’m just going to come here and play hard,” he said, “and if they give me a spot I’ll be ready to go and if not, I’m going to play hard down at Triple-A or wherever it is and try to win a spot at some point in the year.”
Kohl Stewart throws a bullpen session at Orioles spring training.