Pitchers and catchers for the Baltimore Orioles will report to Sarasota for spring training roughly a week-and-a-half after this weekend’s Super Bowl. That’s kind of tough to believe if you think about it! It seems like just yesterday we were bidding farewell to the horrid 2018 season. But yet here we are.
Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how new manager Brandon Hyde conducts spring training. It goes without saying that from manager to manager things will be a bit different. It also goes without saying that regardless of who the manager is, this year was always going to be a bit different.
At this time last year the O’s were expecting to contend in 2018. Heck, at this time over the course of the last several years they were expecting to contend. That effort always began on the green fields of Sarasota. That’s certainly where this year’s journey will begin as well, however there’s no real expectation of being in contention. Yes, we know that things happen and that hope springs eternal – but I’ll just leave it at that.
I think that in spring training this year we’ll see more of an emphasis on fundamentals. However even before that, we’ll see an emphasis on becoming a team. The Orioles of yesteryear didn’t have t go through that process per se. This new group will.
Once the games actually begin towards the end of February, one difference I think we’ll see is that home games and travel rosters will be much more interchangeable. Most of the time veteran players are granted a professional courtesy in a sense, and they aren’t required to travel to the road games (maybe two or three here and there, generally towards the end of the spring). However this year I suspect things will be different.
Hyde and his staff are literally trying to figure out the composition of the team. The question of who’s on first is going to be much more than a slapstick routine. So I suspect we’ll see some similarities in terms of who plays in Sarasota and who’s on the travel rosters.
And as I said at FanFest this past weekend, Orioles’ fans should look at this season and specifically at this spring training as an opportunity to “get in on the ground floor” of a new team. 2019 is going to feel much different, and that’ll be true from the very beginning. But the first time this group wins a game in walk off fashion, that old feeling of Orioles Magic will come back through the yard. And things won’t see so off.
However in the interim, Brandon Hyde and GM Mike Elias will have to get a starting lineup ready to go. And that process will start in the coming weeks in Sarasota.