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Inbox: Why doesn't Hyde have a bench coach?

Beat reporter Joe Trezza answers Orioles fans' questions
New Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde stands on a stage after an introductory news conference, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in Baltimore. Hyde is the 20th manager in the team's history. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky/AP)
January 24, 2019

Now that Brandon Hyde's coaching staff is set, little remains on the Orioles' offseason to-do list from a management perspective. All that's left is for the O's to divvy up their Minor League assignments, and once they do, they'll be fully operational heading into the 2019 season.It is rapidly approaching.

Now that Brandon Hyde's coaching staff is set, little remains on the Orioles' offseason to-do list from a management perspective. All that's left is for the O's to divvy up their Minor League assignments, and once they do, they'll be fully operational heading into the 2019 season.
It is rapidly approaching. But while we wait, let's tackle a few of your pressing questions in another Orioles Inbox.
Why no bench coach with a rookie manager?
-- Andrew W. via Twitter
That's the big question, surely one of the first general manager Mike Elias or Hyde will be asked the next time they speak publicly. The Orioles reportedly interviewed Mets third-base coach Gary DiSarcina for the role, but they passed on him and chose not to fill it. It's a decision that really breaks precedent. The O's will be the only team this year without a bench coach. And while there are scattered recent examples of teams not having one -- the Pirates in 2015, the Tigers during much of Jim Leyland's tenure -- most consist of clubs with a veteran manager who also had former skippers on their staff. The Orioles have a rookie manager and none of the latter.
My guess is that several members of Hyde's staff will combine to handle the duties usually assigned to the bench coach, and early indications are that Tim Cossins will be used in a similar capacity. Cossins and Hyde are very close, and they have worked together for much of their careers. But how it'll all shake out remains up in the air.
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So if the manager gets ejected, who takes over?
-- Jon F. via Twitter
Only time will tell, Jon.
Any infield coach?
-- Mike B. via Twitter
Those duties will fall to Jose Flores, who comes over after a one-year stint with the Phillies. Prior to that, Flores was the Cubs' Minor League infield instructor from 2013-17.
Where did Wayne Kirby go?
-- Aaron via Twitter
Kirby, the first-base coach, was not retained, and as far as I know, he has not latched on with another club.
With the Orioles possibly looking at bringing in a veteran catcher this offseason, what are the chances they could bring back Matt Wieters on a one- or two-year deal? We know he'll bring solid defense and leadership for a young group of pitchers and catchers. Plus, with Adam Jones almost certainly gone, Wieters could fill that void as a familiar face for the fan base to get behind.
-- Daniel M., Glen Burnie, Md.
The Orioles are really thin behind the plate, so it's possible. But it would have to be on their terms.
Frankly, I think it's more likely they reunite with Caleb Joseph, whose decade-plus run with the organization ended when he was non-tendered in November. Joseph, 32, provided essentially replacement-level production on the field, but Wieters, also 32, hasn't been much better since leaving Baltimore three winters ago. Wieters is coming off a season when he was limited to 76 games due to injuries.
Furthermore, it's tough to see this regime signing a veteran (who might block a younger player), based on intangibles. How little do the Orioles value that right now? They pointed to Joseph's projected $1.7 million salary as the reason for parting ways. Wieters would certainly be more expensive than that, though his market is basically nonexistent at this point. Unless he settles for a Minor League deal, his career might be over.
What role do you think Mychal Givens will hold this year? Did he close well enough to keep the job?
-- Joel W., Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
As it stands, Givens is the most experienced and accomplished member of a relief corps that features few defined roles. He ended 2018 as the closer and ostensibly enters '19 as such, albeit with just nine career saves under his belt. There aren't many pitchers on this roster you can point to with guaranteed roster spots, but Givens is one. In theory, he's the closer.
But how many games will Givens actually close? That remains to be seen, as does whether or not Hyde decides to designate the ninth inning anyone's job at all. It's very possible the O's new forward-thinking regime could choose to keep its relief assignments fluid, instead preferring to deploy their best relievers in the most high-leverage situation, regardless of inning. Givens is clearly that guy, particularly against right-handed hitters. But as far as how many saves he actually earns, let's wait and see.

Also, when do you see Austin Hays making the big club?
-- Joel W., Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia 
Another good one from Joel, who keeps pouring in questions from north of the border. Coming off a 2018 season in which he regressed significantly, Hays will enter camp one of many young outfielders jostling for a roster spot. Given his vaulted prospect status -- he remains the club's No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- Hays should get every opportunity to make the big club. What he does with that opportunity will be determined this spring.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.