ICYMI, COVID-19 ‘Coronavirus’ is shutting down the world. Since I started writing this last night around 7:30pm MT, the NBA suspended their season. Nearly every college basketball conference has either cancelled their tournaments or has elected to play without fans, and March Madness will be played without fans (#MarchSadness). MLB, NHL, and MLS have all restricted media access (more on that below). No word on what actions these other teams will take, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see more announcements within the next 24 hours.
Nick Groke documents how COVID-19 is affecting the Cactus League, as of Tuesday. In particular, David Dahl expressed his personal concern due to his lack of spleen. Ubaldo Jiménez talked about playing in an empty stadium, saying that hopefully things don’t get to that point. Jiménez pitched at Camden Yards in an empty stadium during the 2015 riots. It’s crazy to think about how quickly this situation is changing, but hopefully we’ll see some relief soon.
On Sunday, I shook hands with Colorado Rockies second baseman Ryan McMahon after we finished an interview. On Tuesday, Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers and I bumped elbows. Welcome to the new world of Major League Baseball media coverage in the age of coronavirus.
That’s how Kevin Henry begins his piece. This was before the NBA season was suspended, but right after MLB announced that they were closing clubhouses to media members. Henry details the first day of the new restrictions and how the media is having to adapt. With the NBA now suspending their season, and other leagues likely to follow suit, it will be interesting to see how much more the media will have to adapt to continue bringing quality content to the fans.
As of this writing, MLB doesn’t appear to have any interest in suspending their season. But as we all have seen, that could change by the time this publishes. It appears that MLB is exploring either playing in empty stadiums and/or playing in alternate locations, such as their Spring Training facilities. The Mariners, Giants, and Athletics are all mentioned as teams exploring alternate locations, with the Mariners looking to either play in Peoria, AZ or possibly at the home stadiums of their first two opponents (Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins). Health experts weighed in on this potential plan, saying that MLB should follow the European (and now NBA/NCAA) model and play games without fans since the best way to contain the virus is to avoid large crowds while professionals keep testing people. If you think about it, last night’s events could be the last live sporting events that have fans for a while. Fingers crossed that Opening Day won’t be affected in two weeks.
In non-coronavirus news, Peter Lambert is visiting specialists to figure out the extent of his forearm injury. ‘Forearm tightness’ is never a good sign for pitchers. Luckily Lambert is young and early in his career, so if he has to have Tommy John he’d be able to bounce back better than some of the older guys who have it. It also makes the race for the fourth and fifth starter spots a little more clear, but this certainly isn’t the way you’d like to see that happen.
It’s been rainy in Phoenix. I was there two weeks ago and the Cactus League Opener was rained out. That happened again yesterday. Duane DaPron talked to Jon Gray about rain delays and how the Rockies spend their time, especially in Spring Training. Many of them, pitchers and position players alike, just do their work in the cages so that they are able to keep up and be ready for their next start. Gray also discussed his recovery from the foot injury that ended his season last year, as well as his 2019 season as a whole. He has a 43-33 record in his MLB career and has won 10+ games in each of his five seasons in the big leagues. He also holds a 4.46 career ERA and 670 strikeouts, which rank sixth and fifth in Rockies history. How many stats will the Gray Wolf add in 2020?