Hyde comes prepared to first Spring Training

New skipper enters camp with a message of competing

February 12th, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- For Brandon Hyde, the days and weeks leading up to Tuesday were filled with phone calls to friends, to former colleagues, to mentors he's made across more than two decades in the game. A constant theme emerged from the ensuing chats: What, exactly, should Hyde expect from his first Spring Training as a big league manager?

"I talked to a lot of people in the game that have been in my shoes right now, a lot of people that I trust," Hyde said. "I did a lot of preparing. I feel like I've been preparing for a lot of years."

So much of that prep work occurred under Joe Maddon, so it's little surprise that Hyde took time to phone the Cubs' skipper for some last-minute advice. Hyde was tasked with handling the day-to-day operations of several camps as Maddon's bench coach in Chicago, and plans to lean on that experience heavily during his first spring officially at the helm in Baltimore.

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But once Hyde pulled into the parking lot at Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday, the familiarity abruptly stopped. He arrived into a world of everything new, from the facilities to the staff to the heap of fresh faces waiting in the O's clubhouse. Also new are the expectations, drastically different for the rebuilding Orioles than they were with the juggernaut Cubs, who entered the past four springs with established stars and legitimate playoff aspirations.

"We're going to compete," Hyde said. "Compete within each other on a daily basis out here, compete when we break and go to New York. That's the overlying message. We're going to prepare, and we're going to compete."

Hyde's first chance to implement that message came Tuesday, when pitchers and catchers officially reported to Orioles' camp. More benchmarks are still to come, with position players required to report by Sunday and the club's first official workout scheduled for the next day. Spring games commence Feb. 23, at which point roster-wide competition figures to begin in earnest.

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"We're going to be taking a fresh look at really every position on the diamond," general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias said. "This camp is essentially going to be an open competition wherever you look."

In all, Hyde plans to use the next six weeks to "dive into every single guy," a sifting process that has already started in the form of one-on-one meetings with upwards of 40 players already in camp.

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"Obviously our roster isn't set. We're going to go on past history, that's really, really important," Hyde said. "We want to see how these guys work, see how guys go about their business, combining that with what they've done in the past."

The weeks to come should also go a long way toward establishing an identity for what figures to be an ever-churning roster, offer glimpses into how Hyde's new staff will operate and give club officials the chance to introduce their data-driven philosophies to a slew of young and unproven players.

Essentially, they'll provide the framework for how a Hyde-run camp will operate and what he'll try to accomplish.

"He's more than ready for it," Elias said. "He's been the bench coach in Chicago, running their camps with a veteran manager who put a lot on Brandon's plate. He knows the ropes when it comes to Spring Training. For him it's about learning players, learning the habits of his coaching staff, learning the front office. We're all getting to know each other a little bit."