The Orioles used a club-record 58 players last season and the lineup was built with moving parts. Injuries were only partly to blame.
Nine players made starts in left field, eight in center and seven in right.
Joey Rickard, Jace Peterson, Keon Broxton and Drew Jackson are gone. DJ Stewart is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and won’t be ready for opening day.
Stevie Wilkerson won’t repeat as the leader in appearances in center unless something unforeseen happens.
Really unforeseen, since he was designated for assignment on Friday.
There’s a long way to go before rosters are set, but the easy outfield projection places Anthony Santander in left, Austin Hays in center and Trey Mancini in right. Mancini should get plenty of starts at first base - he made 52 last season - but the outfield corner is most likely his primary residence.
Dwight Smith Jr. remains on the roster and is an option in left field. Cedric Mullins is fighting to get back to the majors. Mason Williams was re-signed to a minor league deal and enters the competition for a backup spot. And Yusniel Diaz, one of the top prospects in the organization, could make his major league debut later in the summer.
There’s going to be more movement, but maybe without the vapor trails.
Could manager Brandon Hyde have more of a set lineup in 2020?
“I hope so, but we’ll see,” he said Thursday on the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan. “I don’t know that as of right now. I think a lot’s going to depend on health and injury.
“I felt like I did the best job I could of sharing at-bats and giving guys opportunities and I tried to match up as well as I possibly could from a right-left standpoint. Against a left-hander, Bert (Alberto) was playing every single time and then he worked himself into an everyday role. Credit to him in that he forced my hand to play him, which was great. Somebody stepping up to be an everyday player. I hope I have 12 of those guys that you want to play.
“You want to have the tough problem of, who do I put in the lineup because there’s 12 guys that I want to play tonight, and so we’ll see how that goes. But for me, that’s what I’m hoping for.”
It won’t be like the Orioles of my childhood with Don Buford, Paul Blair and Frank Robinson in the outfield and Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Davey Johnson/Bobby Grich and Boog Powell in the infield. Those days are long gone. But there might be a little more stability, with fewer moving parts, in 2020.
“We had so many players that didn’t have much major league experience that we were just kind of throwing guys out there, taking inventory of what we had in our organization,” Hyde said.
“We tried to set the mindset that we were going to try to play hard every night and compete, and I feel proud about how our team played for 162 games, even though the wins and losses weren’t there and we had a lot of tough nights.
“If you look at September, our guys played hard up until the last game of the year, so you feel good about that and I’m proud about that and we’re just looking forward to building on that going into this year.”