Only the Detroit Tigers have a worse record than the iterations of the Orioles and Kansas City Royals that met at Camden Yards this week, giving Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde and Kansas City bench coach Dale Sveum an opportunity to reflect on the rebuilding days they shared with the Chicago Cubs.
Sveum managed the Cubs in 2012 and 2013, his first and full-time managing job, with Hyde serving as Chicago’s minor league field coordinator and farm director in those respective seasons. While Hyde oversaw a farm system that became one of baseball’s best, Sveum handled a major league product that went 127-197, leading to consecutive top four draft picks.
“Similar experiences that I’m going through now that he went through, from roster and pitching and playing against really good clubs with the team that you have,” Hyde said this week. “We talked a lot about those two years in Chicago and what I’m going through now.”
Much like those Chicago teams, the Orioles and Royals are both in the process this season of determining which players to retain as their rebuilds continue. First baseman Anthony Rizzo and left-hander Travis Wood were the only players on both the 2012 and 2013 Cubs teams who were still with them for their World Series title in 2016, when Hyde served as Joe Maddon’s first base coach while Sveum was in his third season on Ned Yost’s Royals staff.
After getting fired in Chicago, Sveum became Kansas City’s third base coach the next year and was the Royals’ hitting coach for both of their American League pennants in 2014 and 2015, winning the World Series the latter season. He’s in his second year as Yost’s bench coach, again finding himself in the middle of a rebuild.
With the Orioles holding the second-worst record in baseball, Hyde and Sveum were able to catch up this week and commiserate over life as the manager of a rebuilding team.
“It’s difficult,” Sveum said. “Especially when you’re trying to so-called ‘put your mark’ on baseball as a manager, and then you’re in a lot of tough situations.
“You know that you’re short in so many areas, especially on the pitching. Decisions are very limited, so to speak.”
Sveum said pitching difficulties include using a backend reliever when trailing in an effort to keep a game close one day and then not having him available to hold a lead the next. The Orioles’ lack of experienced major league pitching is among the causes of their proximity to the record for home runs allowed in a season.
That’s far from the Orioles’ only weakness, as their fielding, base running and hitting have had their share of flaws throughout the year. But Sveum said what Hyde saw through with the Cubs should provide him with the perspective to take this season in stride.
“You learn a lot about understanding patience and those kind of things, the struggles and ‘it’s going to happens,’ ” Sveum said. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes when you look at the other side of the field, and they’re basically better at catcher, they’re better at first base, they’re better at this and that. You kind of have to sit back and think, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta play the perfect game,’ so let’s not get carried away with getting frustrated or showing your colors when you’re battling uphill. You’re just pissing against the wind all the time, so you have to be patient. Otherwise, you’ll go nuts.
“I’m sure he’s understood that and saw what happened in Chicago and knows the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Around the horn
Hyde said rookie reliever Hunter Harvey will “probably not” pitch in consecutive games as he approaches an undisclosed innings limit. Hyde also said he would “prefer not to” bring in Harvey in the middle of an inning. Harvey has a 2.60 ERA as a reliever between Double-A, Triple-A and two scoreless appearances in the majors. … Dwight Smith Jr. (calf strain) played left field in the third game of his rehab stint with Triple-A Norfolk. … Competitive eating legend Joey Chestnut sat in on Hyde’s pregame meeting with media before a filming a Hot Dog Race promo while wearing an Orioles mustard shirt.