The competitions for roster spots with the Orioles remain on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. Players are working out at home, a few of them posting clever videos on social media. Small children and pets are coming in handy as alternatives to gym weights.
Ever done squats with a German Shepherd draped over your shoulders?
These are the dog days of spring.
One of the likely adjustments to baseball’s season, if it happens in 2020, is inflating the active roster from 26 to 29 players for the first month. Which creates more questions, of course.
Would the limit on pitchers be increased from 13? Makes sense because the arms need to be protected after a long interruption.
Throwing batting practice to wives and neighbors won’t simulate exhibition games.
(You can brush back a neighbor, but don’t knock your spouse off the plate unless you enjoy sleeping on the couch.)
Manager Brandon Hyde suggested in spring training that the Orioles could carry three catchers on opening day. It didn’t seem likely to me, with two utility players throwing off the math, but an expanded bench creates all sorts of possibilities.
This is assuming that teams won’t be using the three extra players for their bullpen. We don’t know what limits will be imposed.
I’d try to guess which Orioles catcher could turn a duo into a trio if that’s what Hyde wants, and it still seems excessive, but the backup hasn’t been determined. Pedro Severino currently is a solo act.
Severino is out of minor league options and he seems to be the only lock for opening day. Carrying a third catcher could benefit anyone else on the list.
Sisco is the lone left-handed hitter, if that matters to Hyde. Davis was used at first base in camp, if that matters to Hyde.
Wynns appeared in 28 games with the Orioles last season. Davis has ties to Hyde from their days together with the Cubs, if that matters.
The bubble guys gain strength on a 29-man roster. Camp was shut down with Andrew Velazquez and Pat Valaika emerging as favorites to serve in utility roles, the former trusted to play center field in a backup capacity. But the camp crew still includes Stevie Wilkerson, Richie Martin, Dilson Herrera, José Rondón and Richard Ureña.
Wilkerson is listed with the outfielders on the Orioles’ spring roster and he made the most starts in center last season. If that matters.
An expansion to 29 players gives Hyde more protection for his rotation. He could carry an additional long reliever. He could more easily reward exhibition performances like the kind turned in by Cody Carroll, who allowed one run with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings but didn’t leave Florida with any assurances that he’d made the club.
Eric Hanhold allowed one run and three hits with nine strikeouts in six innings. Maybe he already won a job. Maybe he sat on the bubble as a non-roster invitee.
Branden Kline, also invited to camp, tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with two hits, but he issued four walks.
The perceived bullpen locks prior to the shutdown consisted of Hunter Harvey, Mychal Givens, Shawn Armstrong, Miguel Castro and left-handers Richard Bleier and Paul Fry. Room could be made for lefty Tanner Scott, who surrendered one earned run (four total) in 4 2/3 innings, walked three batters and struck out seven. Room could be made for Dillon Tate, who allowed three runs with one walk and six strikeouts in five innings.
Hyde didn’t get the chance to watch Hector Velázquez beyond a bullpen session, but the right-hander is on the 40-man and coveted due to his experience in multiple roles with the Red Sox. He was viewed as a long reliever when claimed off waivers March 8.