While it’s difficult to get a full sense of who is in Orioles camp and who isn’t due to the limited open periods of this weekend’s workouts, the absence of star outfielder Trey Mancini is one that’s undeniably felt.
Even in an informal workout setting with weeks to go until games and plenty of time to digest that the Orioles’ most productive hitter from 2019 won’t be playing as he continues treatment for stage 3 colon cancer, Mancini’s absence is notable, manager Brandon Hyde said Sunday.
“We lost one of the best hitters in my opinion in the American League, and a guy that had an All-Star-caliber season last year,” Hyde said. “That’s going to be very, very tough to replace. Not only that, but having him in the clubhouse and how he is with the guys, just overall having him around — it’s going to be challenging, and it already is challenging. Not having him here is challenging.
“But we have to have guys step up, and this is just an obviously an extremely unfortunate ... It’s unfortunate to not have him here, and we’re thinking about him constantly.”
Hyde and several Orioles players were wearing Under Armour shirts with #F16HT printed across the front for workouts this weekend, a nod to the team’s social media rallying cry in support of Mancini. He said he’d wear the shirt every day, and has been in frequent contact with Mancini through his treatment and the team’s return this week.
“To not have him, not only to not have him in the lineup but not have him around is something we’re going to ... it’s not easy,” Hyde said.
The team entered camp with only four outfielders this week: Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Dwight Smith Jr. and DJ Stewart. Through Sunday, neither Santander nor Smith participated in the open portion of workouts.
Hyde said utility players such as Stevie Wilkerson and Andrew Velazquez will get increased looks in the outfield in the coming weeks, while noting that nonroster invitees Dilson Herrera and Pat Valaika also have corner outfield experience.
Orioles still quiet on COVID-19 results
Hyde said Sunday he didn’t have anything he could share on the players who were still in the intake process for coronavirus testing or had tested positive, but that executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias would address that this week.
“With the intake and the COVID stuff, Mike is going to address you guys here at some point later this week regarding our policies on releasing names or releasing how many positives or whatever numbers we have,” Hyde said. “Mike’s going to handle that with you guys later this week.”
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MLB announced Friday that intake testing had produced 31 positive COVID-19 tests for players and seven additional positive tests for staff, with 19 of the 30 clubs having at least one positive test on the first wave of intake.
Hyde said Saturday afternoon that the Orioles still had players in the intake testing process but that the team would not be disclosing positive tests without identifying the player, even as several clubs have done just that.
Hyde also said Saturday that he had been instructed that the team wouldn’t be disclosing such results, even as the agreement between Major League Baseball and the players allows teams to disclose the number of positives tests while hiding the player or players’ identity unless they consent to releasing it.
On Saturday, the Miami Marlins announced that four players had positive tests but did not identify them. The Chicago White Sox announced on Sunday that they had two positive tests while withholding identities.
Other teams to report positive tests include the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves. Before teams officially reported, players from the Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays also tested positive.
Additionally, the Oakland Athletics pushed back their planned workout for Sunday because intake testing results weren’t back yet.
Around the horn
Sunday’s open portion of workouts featured pitchers Kohl Stewart, Rob Zastryzny, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Scott, Eric Hanhold and Cole Sulser facing a group of hitters including Hays, Wilkerson, DJ Stewart, Austin Wynns, Bryan Holaday and Chance Sisco. Hyde said Kohl Stewart stood out with a fastball up to 94 mph and good secondary pitches in the strike zone. “I thought that was a big step from spring training,” Hyde said. … Left-hander John Means said he has been built up to five innings and 75 pitches before the shutdown, but felt like he could go more than the four innings he worked in Saturday’s camp session. “I finished strong,” Means said. … Hyde said the Orioles would begin intrasquad games in the middle of this week, with full defenses behind the pitchers getting their work in.