BALTIMORE (AP/WJZ) — Baseball season is finally here. The Baltimore Orioles will start their 2021 season Friday at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles aren’t expected to be playoff contenders, but there are still plenty of reasons to be excited to watch their games this year.READ MORE: 26-Year-Old Maryland Woman Says She Killed 92-Year-Old Roommate Nancy Anne Frankel, Police Say
It’s year three of the team’s rebuild, and while the Orioles have plenty of young talent, there are also veterans on the roster.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he likes the mix that’s come together in six weeks of Spring Training.
Opening Day pic.twitter.com/jHK3aSD0CI
— Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Orioles) March 29, 2021
“I think we have a nice blend right now,” Hyde said. “We have some young guys, and we got some guys that have been around for a while which is always nice to have that mixture. I really like our veteran guys.”
HERE’S WHO TO WATCH FOR IN 2021:
Trey Mancini, Right Fielder
Trey Mancini had surgery for colon cancer last year on the same day Major League Baseball shut down spring training due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baseball returned later in 2020 and Mancini is back now, healthy and ready to go.
Mancini had a breakout season in 2019, batting .291 with 35 homers and 97 RBIs.
He singled in his first at-bat in Spring Training and got a standing ovation from fans at the ballpark.
Mancini said he plans to take his mission beyond baseball and promote cancer awareness.
His foundation is also dedicated to feeding needy schoolchildren in Baltimore through the “Blessings in a Backpack” program.
Matt Harvey, Pitcher
Matt Harvey is back in the major leagues with the Orioles.
Baltimore selected the contract of the 31-year-old right-hander one week before its season opener at Boston.
Harvey gets a $1 million, one-year contract and the chance to earn performance bonuses.
He was 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances last year for the Kansas City Royals.
He has a 5.40 ERA in three spring training appearances this year, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 10 innings with six strikeouts and one walk.READ MORE: 'Glad We Lived': Ravens CB Jimmy Smith Says He Has PTSD After He And His Family Were Robbed At Gunpoint In LA In February
An All-Star with the New York Mets in 2013, Harvey was derailed by Tommy John surgery in 2013 and an operation in 2016 to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which blood vessels or nerves are compressed.
Freddy Galvis, Shortstop
Freddy Galvis is expected to take over as Baltimore’s shortstop for José Iglesias. Galvis played 33 games at shortstop last season and 16 at second base for the Cincinnati Reds.
Galvis has a .247 career batting average with 95 home runs and 386 RBIs. A journeyman who’s headed to his fifth big league team, Galvis started with the Phillies, made a one-year stop with San Diego in 2018 and played in Toronto before joining Cincinnati during the 2019 season.
His best season offensively was in 2019, when he hit 23 homers with 70 RBIs.
Baltimore signed him primarily for his ability to deftly play in the middle of the infield. He has a .984 fielding percentage as a shortstop over 801 games.
Ryan Mountcastle, Left Fielder
The Orioles are showing progress in developing their young players.
Some made their Major League debuts last season, and now, they’re getting ready for an encore.
Ryan Mountcastle has graduated from prospect to time to show he’s a big-time pro.
He showed plenty of promise with a strong Major League debut in the pandemic-abbreviated season last year.
Mountcastle’s been on the radar and on the rise since the Orioles picked him as a first-round draft choice six years ago when he was an 18-year-old high schooler.
Drafted as a shortstop, he’s transitioned to outfielder and can play some first base.
But most of all, Mountcastle can hit. His batting average, home runs and runs driven in were all impressive in his first 35 games as a big leaguer.
Mountcastle is projected to be the Orioles’ starting left fielder, and because he played in just 35 games last season, he’s classified as a “rookie” this year.
John Means, Pitcher
LHP John Means is 27. Even a little time in the Majors makes him a mentor to his young teammates.
“It’s crazy the fact that I have two years of service time and I’m stepping into a leadership role,” Means said. “But that’s the way this team works and that’s the way it needs to be. I’m excited to kind of take that role on.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said the veterans on the team are they’re like coaches to help to move the young players forward.
The Orioles have one of the youngest rosters in Major League Baseball, and that’s by design.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Latest: DC Renews Indoor Mask Mandate In Public Spaces Regardless Of Vaccination Status As Delta Variant Continues To Fuel Cases
The Orioles want youth to build their future.