The Orioles departed the Ed Smith Sports Complex on Monday with their roster all but official three days ahead of their regular-season opener against the New York Yankees in The Bronx, and general manager Mike Elias did his best to clarify any concerns surrounding it.
Several questions were still up in the air when the final day of camp began and were settled by the time it ended.
Would Alex Cobb have to start the season on the injured list and miss Opening Day?
The answer came right before the Orioles boarded their charter flight back to Baltimore. Cobb will start the season on the 10-day injured list.
“It would only cause him to miss one start because there are basically three off days baked into that first 10 days,’’ Elias said earlier in the day, “in which case he would miss the Opening Day start and probably line up to come back for the home opener.”
Did that mean the 25-man roster was set, since Cobb, Mark Trumbo and Austin Wynns all are expected to start the season on the injured list?
The answer went from probably early in the day to a qualified yes when those three moves became official, though there are still a couple of days during which the Orioles could find someone on the waiver wire and make a change.
“This is kind of a crazy waiver period and that’s just the reality of it, so if something happens in the next few days, it happens, but we like this group,” Elias said. “This is the group that we’re hoping to bring north with us and that’s the expectation at this point.”
Was it possible that Trumbo would have to start the season on the 60-day injured list to have ample time to continue rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee?
That was also answered in the affirmative by day’s end. It was a tough decision because it means Trumbo will not be available to play until at least the final week of May.
“Obviously, we want him back as soon as we can, but it’s tricky in that we want the best version of him back,’’ Elias said before announcing the final decision. “We want to take absolutely no risk of some kind of major setback, and he had a procedure that’s not a cakewalk in terms of rehab.”
How serious is the left thumb injury suffered by Austin Hays in a minor league game Saturday?
“We got good news on Hays yesterday,’’ Elias said. “I think he’s got a mild sprain of his thumb and it’s going to be more weeks than months in terms of him getting back on the field, so that’s good news. Obviously, that can always evolve, but it was about as good of news we could have hoped for and it was a weight off his shoulders and ours.”
Will the Orioles go with 13 pitchers and 12 position players or vice versa?
Elias said that would depend on Cobb’s roster status, so it appears now that the Orioles will go with 12 pitchers at the start to take advantage of the extra off days built into the early schedule.
Now that Cobb has been placed on the injured list, Andrew Cashner is expected to make the Opening Day start at Yankee Stadium and both Elias and manager Brandon Hyde said that they might go with some form of the “opener” concept to fill one or two spots in the rotation.
Elias referred to the likelihood of some kind of “pseudo-opener.” Hyde generally describes that possibility in terms of being “creative” with the starting rotation, which might have been part of the plan anyway.
“Even more creativity?” Hyde said before Monday’s final exhibition game against the New York Mets. “Let’s get super creative. It just adds to more conversations and more talks about how we want to go about it with the off days also. The opener is still a possibility, especially around an off-day. So we’ll figure it out.”
Elias also addressed the decision to option catcher Chance Sisco back to Triple-A Norfolk. That move surprised some people because Sisco has had a terrific spring and closed out major league camp with a 3-for-3 performance in his final exhibition appearance, but it was consistent with what the front office had done with several other well-performing top prospects over the past few weeks.
“We were thrilled with the way he looked all spring,” Elias said. “I think it was a big step forward for him defensively. He had a great spring. One lesson that those of us who have been in player development have learned is minor league stats in the regular season have a lot more predictive power than spring training stats.
“The situation that we’re in, we want to err on having the correct development path for these guys, and some of them, Hays and Sisco in particular, they came up here really fast at really young ages and didn’t have the normal sort of graduation progression that a prospect normally needs to have and if we provide that for him, I think it’ll be for their long-term benefit and our long-term benefit.”
That, Elias added, also works to the benefit of the club, which needs to maximize every space on the 40-man roster to retain as much talent in the organization as possible.