The final arrangements have been completed on the Orioles’ alternate summer camp site.
The club is using the Prince George’s Stadium facility in Bowie, which is the home of the Double-A Baysox.
Preparations are ongoing to get the complex ready and the first full workout is expected to be held on Thursday morning.
There are 53 players working out at Camden Yards, with the last eight additions ticketed for Bowie. That group consists of outfielder/infielder Ryan Mountcastle, outfielders Mason Williams and Cedric Mullins, catchers Adley Rutschman and Taylor Davis, and pitchers Keegan Akin, Michael Baumann and Isaac Mattson.
Left-hander DL Hall is a possibility for the Bowie workouts.
Spots are being kept open as the Orioles determine how many more players are required with the capabilities to assist them later in the summer. They also could bring in players from outside the organization, whether in free agency and trades or from the waiver wire.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is checking on available outfielders with Dwight Smith Jr. and Anthony Santander unable to participate in workouts and Trey Mancini lost for the season.
Free agent Yasiel Puig reportedly has received at least one offer from the Orioles.
The Orioles will have an interesting mix of players in the alternate camp - veterans and prospects who could play for them in 2020, including making trips as members of the three-person taxi squad, and lower-level prospects and potentially draft selections from last month who will gain valuable experience in the environment.
The coaching staff in Bowie is expected to include Triple-A Norfolk manager Gary Kendall, pitching coach Kennie Steenstra and hitting coach Sean Berry and Bowie fundamentals coach Butch Davis.
In order to seal an agreement for usage of the Baysox facility, the Orioles needed to work with the following Prince George’s County entities:
* P.G. County executive Angela Alsobrooks and her leadership team.
* The P.G. County Health Department.
* P.G. County’s Economic Development Corporation.
* The P.G. County Parks & Planning Commission.
* And, of course, Baysox president Ken Young and the organization.
Not as simple as it sounds.
The Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium facility, which houses the Orioles’ short-season Single-A affiliate in Aberdeen, also was under consideration as a second camp site.
Fans aren’t allowed to attend the workouts. The same rules apply at Camden Yards and Prince George’s Stadium.
Regular season games in Baltimore also will be played without crowd noise except for what’s piped in, an idea that’s supposed to be implemented in every ballpark.
“I’m hearing that there are some teams that are trying it out right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday in his Zoom conference call. “I haven’t heard what the reaction has been, so I don’t know. I’ve never been in an empty stadium with fake noise, so I have no idea what that’s going to sound like or if it increases the energy level or not. I’m kind of waiting to see and hear the reaction from some of these other teams that are piping it in during their workout, during their intrasquads.
“When you’re playing and all you hear is the lights buzz and you can hear every conversation going on, that’s definitely unusual, so if they’re trying to drown that out a little bit, I think if it’s realistic, I think that might be beneficial.”
Hyde appreciates the energy that some of his players routinely inject, no matter the setting, and infielder Hanser Alberto is one of his favorite examples.
It’s rare to find Alberto experiencing a quiet moment.
“You definitely hear him, which is great. You’re going to hear everything,” Hyde said.
“To have Alberto, the energy that he brings, not only for a game but for your workout, how he is in the clubhouse, love guys with energy and Hanser definitely has that. And same guy every day. Yeah, it keeps it light for sure.”
“That’s me right there,” said Alberto, who appeared on screen yesterday for his Zoom session with a smile on his face and a nice greeting for a member of the public relations staff.
“I play with energy without fans or with fans in the stands,” he said. “I think that’s a new challenge for everyone, so we have to keep our focus and try to be the same guy in the clubhouse and in the dugout, outside on the field. I think that will help because I know without fans, it’s a little harder because we want to see the crowd over there. But without them, now we’ve got to make a little adjustment, try to keep the focus and be the same guy.”
The new rules on social distancing conflict with Alberto’s personality. He understands them and adheres to them, but concedes that they don’t feel natural.
Some are tougher than others.
“Keep the mask all the time and we can’t get close to teammates, you know?” he said. “I’m that guy who’s always close to them, try to joke around, give them some touches and stuff, but I can’t do that anymore. I think that’s the hardest part right now. But I think we’re going to learn and hopefully we can go back to the high-fives and stuff.”
Alberto has a wife and young daughter back home in the Dominican Republic, but he didn’t consider opting out of the season.
“It wasn’t that tough of a decision because that’s what I do, that’s what we do, play baseball. So my family knows that,” he said.
“I spent three months with them there and they understand. It’s my job. It’s a little harder to come here and leave them there, but they’re safe. My wife, she takes really good care of my daughters, and my whole family, they take good care of each other. I can come there and do my job without thinking about what’s going on over there.”