Orioles spring training is scheduled to begin a week from Tuesday in Sarasota, Florida, and there are many baseball-related questions to be answered.
On Monday, as I do each month, I answered a selection of Orioles questions from readers. Here are questions I have for manager Brandon Hyde.
What are your plans for Jahmai Jones?
Last week, the Orioles acquired Jones, who can play second, left and center fields, from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Alex Cobb.
I’m curious whether Jones can stick as a possible utility infielder or, if there’s an injury to an outfielder, as an Orioles handyman.
There’s probably room for one utility infielder, and Pat Valaika, who has experience at all four infield spots, would probably be the favorite.
But could Jones make his way on the club?
Do you envision Yolmer Sánchez as your second baseman?
In 2019, the Orioles had several infielders who could play multiple positions. Jonathan Villar started at second and shortstop. Hanser Alberto played second and third. Rio Ruiz and Alberto shared third base starts.
Now, only Ruiz remains, but with Freddy Galvis set to play shortstop, will Sánchez play second regularly or will he be this year’s version of Alberto, starting at second and third?
If Sánchez, who won a Gold Glove in 2019 at second but has substantial experience at third, starts over Ruiz, would Valaika play second? Or could Jones somehow fit in?
How many starting pitchers would you like?
Last week, the Orioles signed Felix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc to minor league contracts to augment John Means, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer.
Jorge López, Bruce Zimmermann and non-roster invitee Thomas Eshelman will also be in camp, as will Rule 5 picks Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells.
Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells will be in camp, too, and there’s always the possibility that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias signs another pitcher or two.
Baumann, Lowther and Wells could have roles like Akin, Kremer and Zimmermann had last year — to pitch early in camp and audition for roles later in 2021. But if the number of spring training games is reduced because of Covid-19, that may cut into their time.
What number of of those guys will get starters’ innings in Grapefruit League video games? Will or not it’s a five-man rotation?
What a few lengthy reliever?
Eshelman, López and Zimmermann might match into that position, and could be helpful as lengthy males in the event that they’re not within the rotation.
Final 12 months’s 60-game season, which got here after the season was placed on maintain by the pandemic, meant pitchers weren’t as constructed up as they’d be usually and innings limits have been carefully adopted. Will that be the case once more this season?
Who would possibly play roles later within the season?
Apart from Baumann, Lowther and Wells, there’s Rylan Bannon, who might see a while if there’s an damage at second or third base.
Richie Martin, who’ll have a late begin due to surgical procedure to take away his left hamate bone, will most likely start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. He ought to be an choice at shortstop or maybe elsewhere later within the season.
If both Pedro Severino or Likelihood Sisco will get harm, Austin Wynns, who was taken off the 40-man roster late final 12 months, might discover his method again.
Elias talked about catching as an space that he’s happy with, and with Adley Rutschman set to start out at Double-Bowie, maybe Rutschman will get a shot if Severino is traded in July.
Within the outfield, there are two apparent choices — Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna. Chris Shaw, who was taken off the 40-man roster when Freddy Galvis was signed, is one other risk.
Are three left-handed relievers a risk?
The Orioles have already got Paul Fry and Tanner Scott, and so they signed veteran Fernando Abad to a minor league deal. Zimmermann can be a left-hander.
There are a selection of right-handers who’ve a shot to start the season with the Orioles — Shawn Armstrong, Hunter Harvey, Travis Lakins, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate and César Valdez. Armstrong and Valdez don’t have choices remaining, and if the crew desires to maintain a Rule 5 pitcher, there might be some powerful choices.