SARASOTA, Fla. (WJZ) — In terms of numbers, the spring training Orioles are a formidable flock.
Nearly 70 players are in camp vying for spots on what will eventually be a 26-man regular-season roster. For young and returning players alike, auditions are underway.
“There’s opportunity there for everybody, you just want guys to grasp, and the guys that did it last year, now that they’ve established themselves, we’re looking for those guys to take the next step in their career and really play with some confidence and play with some grit,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Among the young hopefuls is pitcher Zac Lowther who’s on the rise in the team’s minor league system.
“Being able to take advantage of this opportunity means coming in here and soaking up information, learning how to develop, learning what you do good and what you do bad and working on it,” he said.
Among the elder O’s is 11-year veteran Wade LeBlanc, now 35 years old. While he can also help the younger players, he’s focused on furthering his own career.
“Job number one is to go out and get outs and give the team a chance to win,” he said. “Job number two is to kind of be there for those guys that are kind of experiencing this for the first time. ”
All the talk about opportunity, auditioning and developing young players is indicative of the early stages of the team’s franchise rebuild. It’s a long process but the players expect noticeable progress.
“(We) try to put our best foot forward every day, and at the end of the year hopefully that shows up in more wins than last year,” outfielder Trey Mancini said. “Whenever you’re going through a rebuild you always want to start trending in the right direction, so year two in this thing you want to have more wins than 54 and hopefully a lot more.”
Mancini put on quite a show in batting practice Monday. He did not travel with the team for their exhibition game in Clearwater, Florida. The Orioles lost that game 8-7 to the Philadelphia Phillies.