by Eric Garfield
This morning, the players were available in the locker room so I checked in early and finally got to interview a guy who be been dying to talk to, Cody Carroll. I also was able to talk to and get sound from Adley and Hunter Harvey. I’m going to listen back and provide some highlights before any on-field action gets started.
I wanted to discuss Carroll’s rehab and his long road back from injuries and he smiled when I asked him how much he wants to not be in Sarasota for another baseball season. Cody said that this is a beautiful place and he has a different perspective on Spring Training, he likes it because the locker room is full, not just him. But this is not where he wants to be once the season starts because he’s by himself and not helping the team. Asked about how much one good outing, or even one good pitch (I saw a real beautiful slider in the GCL league)can be something to build on he fully agreed saying that the time off wore on him but getting back on a mound at all was so significant for him. ‘5-6 months off and finally getting back in the late part of the season down here, it was really cool’. Carroll’s main objective is to stay healthy in 2020 and find his way to Baltimore too. He’s an easy guy to root for and I am.
The media had assembled at Adley’s locker and here’s a few highlights of that short chat; He’s loving the amount of education he’s getting and was prepped on the major differences between college and the pros from former Beaver players like Nick Madrigal. The hours start a bit earlier in the pros but he knows he’s in a learning phase in terms of developmental track.
There are major differences in the game as it evolves and the terminology, practice style and technology have changed very quickly. He likes the pro approach and knows that even though he excelled in college that he needs to reinitiate the learning process again.
’As a player, you’re never going to be satisfied with where you’re at……hitting is one of the toughest things to do. There’s always things to improve upon, ask Mike Trout, I’m sure he’s still working on stuff’
Just about every pitcher he catches in spring will have more experience than him and he is learning different things from each one, they’re all different-and how to be ‘accommodating’ to their differences. He’s making adjustments already, while learning on the fly and looking comfortable the whole time. That’s why I had to ask him about the last 20+ months and how he keeps his focus with everything that has happened to him. His teammates and his mindset of wanting to set goals and hit them is his focus. He cited the term growth mindset and it made me smile inside. It’s not a term he uses, he’s more a ‘trust the process’ guy but he sees the similarities. If he based everything on results, baseball would be harder for him. Adley’s loving the start at spring and doesn’t see it as tedious at all, ‘shoot, if it’s a grind right now, I feel bad for ya’ He has yet to have to pay for a big dinner btw and while he’s here is looking to get back and get on the field each day. Adley is doing his thing and getting a high level baseball education all day, it’s refreshing to see him start to thrive and I hope all O’s fans can be a part of what he turns into. But he’s already a good person and a good baseball player. He knows it’s all about the future
Finally, a candid and happy Hunter Harvey was back from a short sickness and he talked about what he expects this season. ‘Nothings really set for me. I still have to come in, have to pitch….you gotta perform and you gotta make the team’.
As far as being a bullpen guy, he never saw himself that way but ‘once I got the taste of it, it’s tough to leave’. It’s great to see him embracing this role as I see it as fitting him and his stuff mix perfectly. His 2019 was mixed but being a big league reliever was ‘ a big confidence builder….just knowing you’re able to do it, especially after the last 5 years-every time I pitched it seemed like I got hurt’. Harvey’s off-season consisted of a great deal of deer hunting and he initiated his throwing program in November. Right now, his innings threshold for the regular season and the spring are ‘wide open’ and the team wants to see how he starts off to determine a track.
Also, Trey Mancini is back and in workout gear so it looks like he’s over his brief sickness as well.
11:20 Update-I have extensive video and looks from Mountcastle at 1B. To summarize before I can write some more-he looked not fluid but showed lots of effort and openness to coaching. Not a natural but not a complete hack by any measure
12:40 Update-Hyde just spoke, I’m going to listen again but he had positive things to say about Mountcastle at first.
In his session he broke down Adley offensively-‘he’s fun to watch hit and I like the way he swings the bat…..from both sides of the plate’. ‘I love his set-up and think he’s got a chance to hit for average and power…..’a real simple swing but lots of power and the ball flies off his bat’. When asked about Adley handling pitchers with more experience than him, the praise went to an even higher level with Hyde commenting ‘he’s not been afraid…..he’s really vocal, the guys really like him and like throwing to him’. Hyde said that Adley has ‘come here like he belongs’ and lots of fans want to hear those exact words. ‘My watching too and I couldn’t agree more. Adley fits. ‘There’s no fake, he cares and he wants to get better’.
As far as ABs and playing time it’s ‘not going to be a ton’ but he’ll play and see chances during the spring.
On Mountcastle, Hyde watched him in the outfield and at first today and sees a much improved and natural cornerman than a year ago.
‘He just looks more comfortable in everything he’s doing to me’ ‘You can tell he put in a lot of work in the off-season and the first base transition is a lot easier than last spring training’ ‘I’m really happy with how he came in….ready to compete this spring’
Briefly, Hanser can play all infield positions and Chris Davis was sent home sick. Also DJ Stewart is making progress but no timeline for his return. Within his plan, he is making progress but can’t make any calls on him now. He’s doing BP, light running and perhaps in early March maybe game ready but they’re waiting. ‘He’s doing well in his progression, but we’ll wait and see’
2:00 pm Update-I wanted to give my take on what I saw from Mountcastle at first. There is not a lot of natural flow to him here, his footwork has improved but his down and up is more rigid than fluid. He has improved but is never going to be a natural. He tracks the ball well on the ground and has a open handed fielding stance ready to accept the ball into his body. That’s something.
He had no issue facing the infield for throws either and didn’t miss any…high or wide he could move to. This is serious progress despite his lack of 1B natural skills. Not every fielder is a gold glover. Mountcastle is by every regard an athlete and that is why he’s become better here. He concentrates, takes coaching and tries hard. My opinion on him hasn’t shifted that much and it’s that 1B is probably the position where he’ll stay because his defense there will be adequate and maybe one day even better. He can help the team at the plate and hurt them the least at first. From my eyes, he’s working very hard but he’s also so young and his baseball future could be wide open.