At camp, spring and jobs in the air

Team will ar­rive in Sarasota this week and next with much about ros­ter un­set­tled

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jon Me­oli

It’s been years since ei­ther the Ori­oles or their new man­ager, Bran­don Hyde, ar­rived at a spring train­ing like this. In­stead of one or two ma­jor league jobs up for grabs at the fringes of the ros­ter, there could be a dozen, with ev­ery­day roles the spoils for the win­ners.

So when Hyde, his coach­ing staff and the 58 play­ers or so who will ar­rive at spring train­ing in Sarasota, Fla., over the next week to get to work af­ter an off­sea­son de­fined by change in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the un­set­tled na­ture of the ros­ter will feed i nto what Hyde hopes will be a defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of this young Ori­oles team in 2019.

“Com­pet­ing matters to me — watch­ing them com­pete and watch­ing how they pre­pare,” Hyde said. “It’s a clean slate with me, you know? I came from a pretty good spot [with the Chicago Cubs] where in spring train­ing, maybe there was a spot or two open when camp started. This is dif­fer­ent. This is more how it was in ‘12 and ‘13 and ‘14 there, where there’s a lot of young, in­ter­est­ing guys that we can’t wait to start de­vel­op­ing, and whether they’re ready to

Tues­day:

Feb. 18:

make the big league team or not, I can’t tell you right now.

“But I think it’s a great sit­u­a­tion for a lot of guys in that there’s go­ing to be in­nings on the mound and there’s [at-bats] to be had, and to have them and the op­por­tu­nity to win a job, I think as a player, that’s what you want.”

With so many in­cen­tives around the di­a­mond — at least a start­ing mid­dle in­field job, third base, right field and catcher don’t have im­mov­able in­cum­bents — Hyde will likely get the best from his new ros­ter of play­ers. He knows how de­ceiv­ing video can be, but to this point that’s most of his back­ground with the play­ers who will fill the spring train­ing club­house.

“That’s what the next two months is go­ing to be, of get­ting to know them as well as we can and mak­ing re­ally good de­ci­sions with [gen­eral man­ager] Mike [Elias] and un­der­stand­ing that this is a de­vel­op­ment deal, and we’re go­ing to put guys in po­si­tions to have suc­cess,” Hyde said. “I feel good about that. But I think right now if you asked meto pick 25, I’d be ly­ing to you if I said I had it nailed down. I think that’s what the next two months are for.”

The feel­ing at FanFest last month was that Hyde, his staff and the play­ers were ready for that to get go­ing. Sev­eral play­ers said there was an en­ergy at the event that was miss­ing in pre­vi­ous years, which could be at­trib­uted to turn­ing the page on one of the worst sea­sons in base­ball his­tory and mov­ing on to some­thing ev­ery­one feels will be dif­fer­ent.

“[It’s] putting last year to bed, and not, I guess, try­ing to won­der why some­thing’s not work­ing up to the level that it should have,” out­fielder Mark Trumbo said. “You get kind of a new start, the ex­pec­ta­tions are go­ing to be far more mod­est than maybe they were last year, and I think that’s what you have to do to kind of get some mo­men­tum and con­fi­dence go­ing for younger guys, as op­posed to, ‘Why aren’t you pro­duc­ing?’ Give them a lit­tle time to work their way in, start win­ning a few games. I don’t know how long the time­line is, but hope­fully, in a few years, this team is at the top of the leader­board.”

For Hyde, spring train­ing will be where that be­gins. He said he ex­pects the work to be pretty in­ten­sive from the start, con­sid­er­ing all the work that needs to be done.

“With this sit­u­a­tion, it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” Hyde said. “This is more — they didn’t play in the post­sea­son. They had a longer off­sea­son. I know the short­com­ings from last year. We’re go­ing to dive into, re­ally, the fun­da­men­tals. I be­lieve in sim­ple. I be­lieve in be­ing the best base-run­ning team in the league. I be­lieve in catch­ing the base­ball. So a lot of the de­fense, base-run­ning com­po­nents, that’s some­thing we’re go­ing to re­ally fo­cus on.”

Tim Cossins, who came with Hyde from Chicago and will serve as his ma­jor league field co­or­di­na­tor and catch­ing in­struc­tor, said what they ac­com­plish over seven weeks in Florida will set the tone for the rest of this staff’s time in Bal­ti­more.

“I think it’s the most im­por­tant piece, as we’re get­ting go­ing,” Cossins said. “These 40-some­thing days down there will ce­ment a lot of the things that we have go­ing for­ward. So, vi­tally im­por­tant on a lot of lev­els.

“Re­la­tion­ships, which you’ve heard a lot of, we’ve said it a lot. And just get­ting our ‘moj’. We call it the moj, get­ting our moj as the team. That’s a re­ally im­por­tant com­po­nent. There’s a lot of things that go into this and I think the thing that glues ev­ery­thing to­gether is the moj.”

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