Elias/Hyde Talk, Observations
by Eric Garfield
Today was mostly a check-in day but Hyde and Elias each had an individual media session. Hyde was asked mostly about the rotation where he said that both Rule 5 acquisitions are candidates, among a lengthy list. As far as roles-starter vs reliever he said that they are ‘still having discussions’ for some guys. DJ Stewart is a little behind and will be ‘slowplayed’ in the spring.
As far as the young guys and their opportunity, the players are ‘realistic and understanding’ about starting the season in the bigs or the minors and going to AAA doesn’t mean a demotion or a that they’ll be there all season. He noted that each player is a ‘case by case’ basis twice.
Hyde emphasized that this camp is about getting eyes on guys that he hasn’t seen in person and he’s excited about the arms coming especially.
Elias discussed the possibility of adding more free agent starters and wouldn’t dismiss it despite the large camp. He stopped short of saying that the talent level had risen overall in his first year but did note that lots of guys who were in the system when he arrived had done well in the minors and ‘have taken steps forward’. He went on to say that the movement to add talent ‘is a process but it is moving in the right direction.
From his perspective, it’s not ‘about if a guy goes 3-10 or 4-10 at camp’ but about how they carry themselves in a big league environment. Guys on the 40 man roster however he did say ‘have an edge’ collectively. In year 2 he has a much better knowledge base of the players individually and their ability, medical history and potential for progress. Elias stressed the priority for the season ‘we’re realistic about our chances in the AL East this year’ and were mindful of making sure a player gets enough development time, and meeting their developmental goals without having players stagnate and spend too much time at a level.
There were players getting warmed up and doing throwing exercises so I was able to see that. Means has gained significant muscle, almost to the point that I was surprised it was him. His back and shoulders are larger. My first thought after watching the guys go through their work was that if Kremer and Tate can’t help the O’s this year I’d be surprised. Also DJ Stewart was on the side doing throwing from medium distance and didn’t appear stiff at half speed. Another guy I wanted to see from a health, size standpoint was Hunter Harvey who looks very comfortable with a little extra muscle on his arms. Tate stayed after the team had cleared the practice field and was trying to get depth on breaking stuff with a catching instructor. It looked clean, again for day 1, and after a few attempts was getting decent late action and drop he seemed satisfied with.
For me, I met Doc Shorebird and some other staff, media, players and O’s employees and it was great to be in a baseball environment with everybody being upbeat. The players were genuinely happy to see each other. There were lots of hugs and high-fives and guys asking about each others’ family as they start the grind. Then they did some baseball exercises and wrapped it up trying to shoot the baseballs into the bucket yelling ‘Kobe! Only Castro was close.