Baseball On Hold And That Is Secondary

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

We look at the situation and sports are shut down. Sports, as much as we use as a diversion, is secondary at this point as the Coronavirus Pandemic crisis is here for the time being.

And for the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, that was supposed to begin tomorrow, this is a waiting game. Most of the players are home with families and the few NY Yankees remaining at their Tampa Bay complex will be forced to go home.

So where do we go from here? The nation waits and hopes. The sports world is dark and a lot of revisions will be made if and when things get back to normal.

Thing is, we don’t know when the norm will resume. Talking to a few major league players this past few days, like many, and they are in the dark. Normally this would be the final few days of spring training. 

Instead, they are home and trying to keep up with a routine. No live pitching and taking swings. They scramble to find the sanctuary of a baseball field that has not been closed because there is a fear of the Coronavirus.

They  work out at home in well equipped areas without the coaches that are at spring training facilities. It’s an adjustment as we are beginning to understand with our daily routines. 

There is also the thought of a 2020 baseball season that could be in jeopardy. An insider said the earliest we can see baseball at this point, and this is based on the projected peak of the Coronavirus, could be mid June.

Again, that is just an estimate. We go day-by-day with this crisis. 

And for some that are nursing injuries the long layoff will help their cause, though the well being of all is on their mind. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, fall in that category.

In that category, Michael Conforto of the Mets.  Sidelined with a strained right oblique muscle, Conforo was projected to be a cog in the lineup.  Along with Conforto, you wonder, Yoenis Cespedes and his progress ?

 Those vying for roster spots, the veteran players, are in the dark. Many don’t know what the future holds. 

Gio Gonzaez, nursing a sore right shoulder, is on the 40-man roster of the Chicago White Sox. He was vying for a spot in the pitching rotation after signing a two -year contract and was scheduled to throw his first spring game in Glendale Arizona.

The rains came and the start was called off.  Then the Coronavirus sent him and the White Sox home when baseball suspended operations.

Gonzalez, 34 -years of age, knows the game is getting younger. This could be his last opportunity for the two-time All-Star.

“If anything this gives me more time to get the shoulder back to normal,” he said from his home in Hialeah, Florida. “ It will take two or three weeks for the guys to tune up again for the season if and when,”

And that Opening Day start state, initially pushed back with an optimistic  two-week period, is projected to be much longer than expected.

We will leave that in the hands with officials from Major League Baseball as to any anticipated start date. They are in constant contact with World Health Organization officials and in touch with their medical personnel.

The Associated Press, Sunday, quoted Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro saying that Major League Baseball would need a month of workouts and exhibition games before the regular season can begin.

“Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks.”

He added, training camps are not going to resume anytime soon.

All the particulars of an abbreviated season, make up games with double-headers, scrapping the All-Star game, and the postseason are all concerns for MLB officials.

But this goes beyond Major League Baseball. The NCAA college baseball schedule has been cancelled and that also leaves many of their scholar-athletes in the dark.

The MLB amateur draft in June leaves many of those eligible asking  where their future holds. It also has been a burden for the underclassmen that were anticipating to have that breakout season.

Around the nation all three of the NCAA division schools with baseball programs were shut down as schedules and plans were disrupted. The College World Series was cancelled to crown a NCAA Division 1 champion.

This does leave a void with that reality of safety first.

Josh Cruz has moved to off campus housing with a friend down in Lakeland Florida. A sophomore, from the Bronx, with Southeastern University is on the sidelines.

He, like teammates, and others are concerned about another year of eligibility with a four-year scholarship.

“A setback but nothing too hard to overcome,” he said. “Staying active, not being on the field and classes online that’s a big adjustment. Something we will all get through.”

But will Major League Baseball adjust if and when this Coronavirus crisis abates?

“Hope we all get through this okay and all get back to normal,” Gonzalez said. 

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