As the Baltimore Orioles draw closer to beginning the third year of their massive rebuilding project, manager Brandon Hyde is preparing to start spring training on time, play a full 162-game season and get the most of out of a team that will again rely heavily on youth.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias cut the payroll during the off-season by trading starting shortstop José Iglesias and releasing second baseman Hanser Alberto and third baseman Renato Núñez. Though the trio provided offence, defence and leadership in 2020 for a club coming off two straight 100-loss seasons, the focus for Baltimore is to stockpile the farm system with players who have the potential to grow in accordance with an overhaul that stresses patience.
“Those are going to be big losses, but I feel confident in our front office and how they’re constructing our roster,” Hyde said Monday in a conference call. “I feel good about the young players who are going to be getting more at-bats because of us losing some of these guys. We’re moving forward with a younger club, and we’re excited about the talent level of the guys moving through our system.”
The Orioles went 25-35 in 2020, one game better than the last-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, and Hyde managed to keep the team healthy and competitive in his second season at the helm. He expects to make further strides this season with a budding starting rotation, the development of sluggers Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle, and the return of star Trey Mancini, who missed the entire year after undergoing colon cancer surgery.
“I’m excited to have Trey to be a part of a full spring training in February,” Hyde said.
The hope is that the pandemic will have subsided enough to enable the Orioles to start preparations on time at their training site in Sarasota, Florida.
“I’m anticipating us starting in February. They’ll let me know if we’re not,” Hyde said. “I’m anticipating the season starting on time, I’m anticipating the season being 162 games. The next month or two is going to tell all of us whether that’s going to happen or not, but I’m going to prepare like we’re starting a normal season. Hopefully that happens.”
Hyde was selected by Elias to guide the Orioles through a rebuild that started following Baltimore’s dismal 47-115 season in 2018. Hyde owns a 79-143 record with the Orioles, but plans to be calling the shots if and when things finally turn around for a franchise in search of its first World Series title since 1983.
“I want to see this through,” Hyde said. “We made a lot of progress last year, and it’s exciting what we have here going forward.”