Orioles dish on plans with gained clarity

July 4th, 2020

The Orioles remain waiting on a few of their players who traveled from the Dominican Republic to clear MLB’s mandated COVID-19 intake screening process for Summer Camp, manager Brandon Hyde said Saturday. That is about as much as they expect to say on the subject of test results.

Hyde elaborated that it was the team’s policy not to disclose if any positive COVID-19 tests come from their ranks, saying simply “at this point, we’re just not going to talk about it.”

“Just hang tight for right now,” Hyde said. “I’ve just been directed that we’re not going to discuss it.”

MLB announced Friday that 38 of 3,185 tests conducted in the league’s initial wave of testing came back positive, resulting in a 1.2 percent positivity rate. Nineteen different clubs had one or more individuals test positive, per the league. Teams are allowed but not required to say whether they’ve had a positive test, but all are required to receive a player’s consent before publicly revealing his name.

MLB protocol calls for players and on-field staff to be tested every other day. Players who test positive must test negative twice before being cleared to resume activity.

At least most hands on deck
Back on the field, , , , , , and were among the Orioles' pitchers facing live hitters Saturday afternoon, with Means completing a four-inning simulated game. also threw a bullpen session, according to Hyde.

, and appeared to be new arrivals, with Iglesias at short and Alberto at second taking grounders. , , , , , and all participated Friday, as did all four catchers.

Rotation plans?
Five-man rotation? Six-man rotation? Openers? Piggyback situations? It’s all on the table for the Orioles, per Hyde, though no decisions have been made yet regarding the structure of their pitching staff.

Handicapping the initial framework plugs Means, and Wojciechowski into the first three spots, with LeBlanc, Milone and the main options behind them.

“First, we want to see where we are health-wise and see how they are built up,” Hyde said. “We still don’t know exactly where we are and where our pitchers are built up.”

Consider it a goal of the next few weeks, with Hyde saying he hopes to get his starters into the “six-inning, 85-pitch” range by late July. He also acknowledged how expanded 30-man rosters at the outset of the season could allow the Orioles to get “creative” on the pitching side, as they are expected to use that flexibility with additional relievers.

Twenty-six of the Orioles’ 45 players in camp are pitchers, providing plenty of options for depth. Besides those six main rotation candidates, the O’s are also expected to have swingman , Eshelman, and Cesar Valdez as starting options in camp.

Intrasquad games planned
After several more workouts, the Orioles will start playing intrasquad games by the middle of next week in an attempt to “fast-track” their camp and simulate game action, per Hyde. The manager added that he plans to push workouts back in the day also to simulate evening conditions, when most regular-season games occur.

“I am probably going to move back the majority of the days to get them on a regular-season clock,” Hyde said. “Get them evening stuff under the lights and get them acclimated to that schedule that they would normally be in.”

Hyde also said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was in talks with other GMs about possibility scheduling exhibition games later in the month. Teams can play a maximum of three before Opening Day, which is slated for either July 23 or 24.