The spot waiting for him is becoming more clear.
Hyde confirmed this morning that Santander is likely to play left field at Camden Yards while Trey Mancini returns to right, but they could reverse positions at select road venues.
Mancini starts in left field at Fenway Park, entrusted to slay the Green Monster.
“I think similar to what I did last year with those guys. When we’re at home I’d like to see Trey in right and Tony in left, but we’ll see,” Hyde said.
“I liked the way both of those guys played out there last year and I think they’re both comfortable in both spots, so we’ll see.”
What makes Mancini a better fit in right field in Baltimore?
It’s tied to his teammate in the other corner, and the ballpark’s layout.
“I like to give Tony a little more room out there,” Hyde replied. “I thought Trey played well in right field last year when he was out there, and it’s a little bit smaller area to cover. Not to knock his foot speed or anything, but I think Tony’s a little more comfortable.”
Hyde views Dwight Smith Jr. as a left fielder on the ballclub, while other outfielders are comfortable moving around. Smith won’t back up in center, a prerequisite for a fourth outfielder.
This is where it gets complicated on a team that values flexibility and versatility.
“Yeah, exactly,” Hyde said. “Smitty’s most comfortable in left. I think there’s a situation where he could play right, but he’s not a center field option for me.”
Carrying Smith is easier on a 26-man roster, but Hyde has to choose how to utilize the extra player.
“I think it’s really going to come down to when we’re finalizing our roster where the need is going to be,” he said. “Whether it’s an extra bat, an extra utility guy, a speed guy, a third catcher. We’ll see. I don’t think we’re even close to figuring that out.
“You try to put all the pieces together on where we feel like this is going to be the most valuable to carry an extra position player.”
Moving players back and forth from the minors is a popular exercise in the organization, but one Hyde would like to avoid.
“When we set the roster, I don’t want to look at it as a shuttle position,” Hyde said. “I want guys who make the team to feel like they’re on the team and ready to contribute.”
Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who developed a sore left shoulder in camp, is expected to play over the weekend.
Hyde said outfielder DJ Stewart, who underwent ankle surgery in October, could be game-ready in the first or second week of March.
Brady Rodgers is “still a ways” from his throwing progression, according to Hyde, which hinders his bid for a rotation spot.
“But he is progressing nicely,” Hyde added.
Rule 5 pick Brandon Bailey starts Friday afternoon against the Pirates in Bradenton.
For the Pirates
Guillermo Heredia CF
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B
Kevin Newman SS
Colin Moran DH
Jacob Stallings C
Kevin Kramer 2B
Will Craig 1B
Socrates Brito RF
Jason Martin LF
Héctor Noesí RHP