We’re entering the fourth day of workouts for Orioles pitchers and catchers, along with a handful of position players who reported early. What stands out for me as I sit in front of my laptop and attend the daily Zooms?
No matter how much I crank up the heat in my house, it can’t duplicate the Florida sun. But let’s stay on topic.
None of the pitchers and catchers reported late due to work visa or health issues, and that’s as unusual as me being home while there’s snow and ice on my driveway.
Stragglers are sort of a spring tradition, and we were told that a few pitchers had international travel issues. Maybe it’s the next wave.
Manager Brandon Hyde didn’t mark anyone absent and he said every pitcher completed a bullpen session over the first two days. No one is being held back or on a limited schedule.
This is an early victory, but it doesn’t change the 0.0 calculation from FanGraphs.com.
The Orioles will consider a six-man rotation in order to lighten the workload on pitchers who must ramp up from 60 to 162 games and experience a significant jump in innings.
It could be for a short period to begin the season. It could happen later in the summer, whether to rest some guys or make room for prospects to debut.
It might not happen at all. Who knows in February? But the idea is on the table.
Matt Harvey is vying for a spot in the rotation, but the idea of using him in relief or a swingman role hasn’t been dismissed.
The Orioles need relievers who can give them length. They need a wide selection of starters while transitioning from 60 to 162 games.
They need Harvey to be healthy and pitch a lot better. Let’s start there.
They also need Hunter Harvey to stay healthy, which isn’t a revelation.
Hyde hasn’t decided whether to pitch Harvey in back-to-back exhibition games or wait until the regular season. He doesn’t know if it’s going to happen in 2021.
Harvey said his splitter has never felt better after working with assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes and staying in contact with pitching coach/director of pitching Chris Holt.
Félix Hernández has lost velocity on his fastball, but he can bring the quip heat.
The veteran right-hander was entertaining in his first Zoom call, correcting a member of the media who referenced past high salaries and got his age wrong within the same question.
“It’s been a while since we had a pitcher in Baltimore who’s made the kind of money that you’ve made in your career ...”
“I don’t make that kind of money this year.”
“So what still drives Félix Hernández at 35 to want to pitch?”
“First of all, 34.”
“Thirty-four, I apologize.”
“No, don’t worry.”
Hernández’s honesty also was refreshing. He didn’t hesitant to admit that building up his numbers to strengthen his case for the Hall of Fame was a primary motivator. Get to 200 wins and 3,000 strikeouts before retirement.
Not this year, of course. He’s short 31 wins and 476 strikeouts. And piling up victories on a rebuilding club is going to require a lot more than humor and honesty.
Jahmai Jones is a second baseman before he’s an outfielder, but he’s going to be evaluated at both positions.
Mostly at second base, where he could be starting at Triple-A Norfolk if he doesn’t make the club in a reserve role or as an injury replacement if Yolmer Sánchez is hurt.
Everyone contacted by Hyde has provided glowing reports on Jones as an athlete and person.
Hyde expects Sánchez and shortstop Freddy Galvis to form his double play combination.
There doesn’t seem to be a competitive situation in camp. Write their names in the lineup.
Rio Ruiz is likely to join them, retaining his hold on third base.
Smart move to report early this week.
“Rio has been part of our infield the past couple years,” Hyde said, “and looking forward to him getting a lot of at-bats this season, also.”
Rio changed his number from 14 to 2 and went back to 14.
Did he give Galvis No. 2? Was money exchanged? Do we obsess a little too much over uniform numbers?
I’m pretty sure that I know the answer to the last one.
Trey Mancini remains full-go in camp. He reported early and is hitting and taking ground balls on the field.
His body is responding exactly as he hoped, the Orioles hoped, everyone hoped. The timing at the plate and reflexes at first base are secondary.
It’s health first for Mancini and he’s feeling “fantastic,” to borrow Hyde’s word.
Impressive arms are attached to them, which is more important if they’re going to beat the odds and head north.
There’s more obvious stuff, like Hyde not being ready to name a closer and doubting that he’d carry three catchers on a 26-man roster that might hold only three reserves. But he isn’t sure about the exact construction of his roster, as far as taking 13 or 14 pitchers to Boston for opening day.