DENVER — Let’s play two? Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black would be down for doubleheaders.
Maybe even a couple a week.
That might be a necessity to make up games once a baseball season delayed by the new coronavirus gets under way.
“In theory, yeah, I think all of us would be up for some sort of doubleheader situation,” Black said during a conference call Thursday. “The thing that’s going to be in front of all of us is it’s going to be the same for everybody. It’s got to make sense for the clubs and the players.”
Opening day has been pushed back from March 26 to mid-May at the earliest, and both sides are committed to playing as many games as possible.
Translation: Doubleheaders could be on the docket.
“I know that when we’re able to safely play, we’re going to have to think of creative ways to get in as many games as possible given all the time that’s going to be lost,” said Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants. “I don’t really have any specific thoughts on that, but I know everybody’s going to be thinking through ways to do that.”
Two pitchers announced they are having Tommy John surgery and will miss the season whenever it starts: Boston ace left-hander Chris Sale and San Francisco right-hander Tyler Beede.
Major League Baseball announced minor league players shut out of spring training camps amid the novel coronavirus outbreak will receive allowances from teams through April 8, and a plan is underway to compensate those players during the postponed portion of the regular season. Minor leaguers will receive allowances of $400 per week from teams in a lump sum for the next three weeks — a significant bump from their usual spring per diems of $100-200 per week. Teams hope that will allow players to cover housing, food and other expenses through the previously scheduled end of spring training.
The Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks halted their voluntary workouts at their shared Salt River Fields complex in Arizona. This was after the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community decided to temporarily cease operations there in the wake of the pandemic.
Some of the Colorado players may travel to Denver with Coors Field open for workouts. The Mile High City sure looked a lot different than Scottsdale on Thursday as a snowstorm hit the area.
More than anything, Black wants his players to treat this time away like it’s December and the season is still in the distance.
Don’t ramp up.
Black said that when a timetable is known, the teams will be given approximately three weeks to get back in shape as part of a second spring training. That’s plenty of time for a starting pitcher to work his way into form.
“There’s no need to throw bullpens. We’re a ways away from that,” Black said.
Hit in a cage — if one’s available. Work out at their gym at home. Or play catch — with social distancing in mind.
“They get together and go to a local park, they go to a high school, they go somewhere where there’s a stretch of grass and they play catch,” Black said. “They’re not going to play closer than six feet together, right? You can play catch.
“Guys are on the down low. They’re probably not doing much baseball activity right now. There’s a sense this is going to be much longer than first anticipated by baseball.”
Seattle shuttered its facility in Peoria, Arizona. The Mariners had initially planned to keep the facility open and work with players in small, staggered groups of 10, but general manager Jerry Dipoto said most of the 40-man roster had gone home.
“As we got to the point yesterday where we pulled the plug there were about 10 or 12 guys that were actually coming down and taking advantage of the workout time,” Dipoto said. “And frankly, we were concerned with the idea of group gatherings of any sort, particularly after we got the news yesterday there was a positive test of a baseball staffer down here in Arizona with another club.”
On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds, whose training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona, said an employee who works year-round at the complex tested positive for COVID-19. All Reds employees who were in contact with the employee during spring training are being tested and have self-quarantined. Dipoto said no Mariners players or staff have reported showing any symptoms of coronavirus.
In Dallas, there about five major leaguers working out at the Texas Rangers’ youth academy. It’s closed to public and has been sanitized.
At their facility in Bradenton, Florida, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a small contingent of players that work out on an informal basis, rotating in and out to make sure there’s not more than a handful at a time.
Opening day would’ve been next week. That’s hard for Black fathom in light of what’s happening around the world.
“I miss the build-up to opening day. I miss what that’s all about. I love our sport. I love the people in it,” Black said. “I’m probably as practical as they come and a realist, and aware of what’s going on and that takes a precedence over our sport and our jobs.”