The Orioles still don’t have a full turnout for their summer training camp, with manager Brandon Hyde saying again this afternoon that a couple of Dominican players remain in the intake process for COVID-19 testing.
“We’re still waiting on that,” Hyde said today in a Zoom conference call.
While some teams are confirming positive tests, whether or not they receive permission from players to reveal the names, the Orioles are keeping the process under wraps.
Major League Baseball announced yesterday that 19 teams had positive results.
“At this point, we’re just not going to talk about it,” Hyde said after again leaving his seat behind home plate and returning to his office. “Let’s hang tight right now. I’ve just been directed that we’re not going to discuss it.”
John Means, Ty Blach, David Hess, Richard Bleier, Branden Kline and Cody Carroll faced hitters today during the two-hour media access. Hyde said Means threw a four-inning live batting practice session earlier in the day.
Hyde also said that Asher Wojciechowski “threw a real nice bullpen this morning.”
Hitters who were visible to the modest media turnout - two beat writers today - included Andrew Velaquez, Richie Martin, Austin Wynns, Pat Valaika, Hanser Alberto, Pedro Severino, Dilson Herrera. Baserunning drills followed, with the proper spacing between players.
“I’ve been impressed with all of our guys,” Hyde said. “I think all of our guys have done a really nice job of staying in shape these last few months. I think they feel good physically. So I’ve been impressed, really, with everyone. I think everybody’s come in ready to play and it doesn’t seem like we have anybody we need to slow play because they’ve been sitting around. I think everybody’s been doing a nice job of staying in shape these last few months.”
It’s too early in the summer process for Hyde to confirm his rotation plans and whether he goes with five or six starters out of the gate.
“We’ve had some discussions about it,” he said. “I think those discussions are going to continue these next few weeks. We first wanted to see where we were health-wise and let these guys get off the mound a couple times and see how they’re built up.
“It’s one thing to throw sides and play long toss and keep your arm in shape throwing to high school hitters or at your local community park, but it’s another thing to ... The intensity is so much different when you’re in a big league stadium throwing against major league hitters. So we still don’t exactly know where we are and how built up our pitchers are.”
Hyde believes that many of his pitchers are at Means’ level of readiness with the four-inning session.
“Obviously we’re going to build those guys from there,” he said, “but whether we’re going five starters or six starters, not sure yet. If we have to piggyback, I’m not sure yet, either. I’m not sure where we’re going to be physically here at the end of this month.”
Hyde would like to get his starters up to six innings and around 85 pitches.
“Somewhere along those lines to be able to go your first time out,” he said. “That’s pretty realistic and I think the majority of our guys at least are on track for that or even a little bit ahead of that. So I think that with an expanded roster the first part of the season to 30, you can be creative with bullpen usage. If our starters are built up, maybe we can be more creative offensively. But setting your roster right now is really not fair to anybody because I have no idea until we start playing games.
“We’re going to start our intrasquads pretty soon, so we’re going to fast-track this as best we can. Hopefully we’re starting intrasquads here the next three or four days to get game action and get these guys to compete and be able to make decisions.”
Using an opener is one of the possibilities, according to Hyde, who’s reached out to a couple of his veterans in camp.
“Maybe,” he said. “I’m not ready to make a decision on that yet. We’ve had guys who have done it in the past. (Tommy) Milone and (Wade) LeBlanc did it last year in Seattle. I talked to both of them about that and their experience with it last year. So as of right now, I have no idea. We’re just trying to get our starters up to be a rotation candidate, whether that’s as a starter or whether it’s coming in after an opener.”
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is in contact with other executives trying to arrange three exhibition games before the July 24 opener. The intrasquad games will be pushed back until later in the day “to get them more on the in-season clock, not a spring training clock,” Hyde said.
“A lot of evening stuff under the lights. Want to get them acclimated to that schedule that we’d normally be in right now and try to speed this up as much as possible.”
Left-hander Paul Fry did his throwing yesterday in a live batting practice session. He wasn’t worried about coming to camp and assumed that baseball would be played in 2020.
“I wasn’t apprehensive at all,” he said. “Honestly, I was hoping there was going to be a season, so this is awesome. There were times when I didn’t think that we were going to have a season. Guys mumbling back and forth or other teams chiming in, but I’m glad we’re having a season and I’m excited to be here.”
Hyde stood at second base yesterday during infield drills, receiving throws and dumping the baseballs into a bucket behind him. Rio Ruiz took ground balls at third base with Stevie Wilkerson, who’s already been moving around the infield.
“It’s completely different than anything, really, actually any of us have been a part of,” Ruiz said on a Zoom call. “We had guys in the clubhouse say we’re going to adjust to the differences from last year to this year real quick. I think we’re just ready to play baseball. All things aside, I think we’re just ready to get going.”
Chris Davis worked out again today while trying to maintain the approach in Florida that produced much better results at the plate. He took batting practice after yelling up to the press box and waving at a couple of familiar masked faces.
“C.D. looks great,” Hyde said. “I’ve seen him one batting practice, took some ABs in live BP the last two days, took some good at-bats, his live at-bats, and took a great batting practice yesterday. So it looked like, from that standpoint, he’s picked up where he left off.
“I know he did put a ton of work in and was really facing a lot of pitchers back home leading up into this, and he was really preparing for when the season started. I know that he’s raring to go. He’s excited. We were texting and calling each other constantly. I just think he wants to play.
“I know he was excited about the at-bats he took in spring training and really wanted to continue that and put the work in these last few months, and he looks great.”