Manfred Urges MLB Players To Leave Spring Training Sites
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he is "urging players to leave spring-training sites, but the facilities will remain open for limited access," although teams will not be permitted to organize even informal workouts, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY (3/17). Manfred: "There should be no organized activities in the camps." Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said, "This is a crisis situation in our country." In St. Louis, Ben Frederickson writes baseball is a "sport that lingers." That is what made yesterday's "hard stop so jarring." Frederickson: "Manfred is easy to rip. He waited too long to cancel spring training, but he made the right call Monday" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/17). In L.A., Castillo & Torres note MLB yesterday issued a directive "prohibiting all domestic and international scouting until further notice" (L.A. TIMES, 3/17). In K.C., Lynn Worthy reports the Royals are "not allowing players to work out in large groups." The club "sent the majority of the baseball staff, front office staff and public relations staff home by Sunday, but the facility will remain open for players on the 40-man roster as well as to accommodate many of their international players currently in the minors who can’t go back to their home countries" (KANSAS CITY STAR, 3/17).
CAMP REPORTS: In Newark, Brendan Kuty cites a source as saying that the “vast majority” of Yankees players are still in Tampa for Spring Training. The source said that players "anticipate training at George M. Steinbrenner Field" today. The source added that he "wasn’t sure how the workouts would look, with the Yankees possibly staggering the number of players allowed to train at the same time" in light of the CDC's guidelines to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/17). In Pittsburgh, Jason Mackey notes the Pirates' workouts are "mostly individual and will be done throughout the day to practice good social distancing." GM Ben Cherington said that "nobody has explicitly told the Pirates they couldn’t hold group workouts" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/17). A's Senior Advisor to Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson yesterday said that it "defies logic that players are still working out." He added, “I would be surprised if anybody is in camp after the next two or three days, because No. 1 it doesn’t make any sense from a baseball standpoint, if the season is not going to start until maybe June 1. And secondly it doesn’t make any sense in terms of setting an example for the rest of the population to have a bunch of athletes running around playing catch. That does not constitute social distancing” (N.Y. POST, 3/17).
CHALLENGING TIMES: In N.Y., Joel Sherman reports the MLBPA "sent a counter-proposal Sunday night to MLB's original overture on how to handle a myriad of issues impacting the game such as whether players will be paid or not." MLB's first offer "included a lump payment to all major leaguers to help especially those most in need due to missed games and lost paychecks." Because it "had to negotiate this with a union, MLB was dealing with major leaguers first before addressing if and how to pay minor leaguers and club employees/gameday workers who are financially impacted by this shutdown" as well. Sherman: "Pretty much every element of player/management relationship is impacted by the suspension of play, such as pay, service time, how to handle performance bonuses and -- at this moment -- how to house players (notably from other countries) who may not be able to get home or have concerns about getting back into the United States when there is clearance to return to play" (N.Y. POST, 3/17).
FIRST CASE CONFIRMED: In N.Y., Dan Martin cited a source as confirming that Yankees minor league P Denny Larrondo, a 17-year-old from Cuba, was the "first professional baseball player to test positive for coronavirus" (N.Y. POST, 3/17).