Well, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has another challenging year ahead of him, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about a sophomore jinx.
He oversaw the first year of executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias’s long-term rebuilding program and got solid marks for the way he kept his team engaged during a season in which the Orioles had no chance to be even marginally competitive in the American League East. Though this figures to be another year of talent accumulation and player development, Hyde said this weekend that he does expect to see progress from the young players who got their first significant big league playing time in 2019.
“I want guys to step up and I want guys to learn from experiences they had last year,’’ he said during an Orioles Caravan event on Friday in White March. “I’ve talked to almost every single guy coming to camp. Everybody’s had a great offseason. I think guys are really driven. I think guys are going to play with a chip on their shoulders. I just want guys to compete.”
They’ll certainly have to do that this spring, with 66 players expected to report to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex in Sarasota, Florida, over the next week. Pitchers and catchers will begin scheduled workouts on Wednesday and the first full-squad workout is Feb. 17.
There will be a lot attention paid to 2019 top overall draft pick Adley Rutschman, who will be experiencing his first big league camp after spending a couple of months in the minors last summer, but he’s actually one of the players who will not be competing for a major league job and probably won’t be under consideration for a regular-season call up until at least next year.
Hyde and his coaching staff, which now includes former major league manager Fredi González, new first base coach Anthony Sanders and new bullpen coach Darren Holmes, will have to sort through the huge camp roster that features 35 pitchers and 31 position players. And that’s assuming there will not be several more signings after camp opens.
“It’s a big number,” Hyde said, “but I’m looking forward to the competition we’re bringing into camp and I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of guys. Especially where we are right now, I think the more guys we have competing for jobs the better. So, I’m happy with the number we have and the challenge of the next six or seven weeks is to get guys enough innings and at-bats.”
Nothing that Hyde will face this spring will be more of a challenge than showing up at training camp last year with exactly one day of major league managerial experience, but he seemed comfortable enough — at least on the outside. He said Friday that there was a lot more going on behind his omnipresent sunglasses.
“It’s a lot easier for me because I know everybody now, at least the guys we had here last year, and some of the invite guys I’ve run into in the past also,’’ Hyde said. “Familiarity is a big thing for me. Not walking in blind. Not knowing many players. This year, I know most of the guys, so that’s a lot easier.”