Sorry for the late Rockpile today, folks. But here’s what’s happening in baseball.
Word came through late Wednesday that Salt River Fields at Talking Stick would be shut down until further notice. The decision came from Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, not from the Phoenix or Arizona government, but the net result is voluntary workouts are ended, leaving Rockies players with few options to continue their pre-season prep as they avoid the coronavirus outbreak.
For their parts, general manager Jeff Bridich and manager Bud Black are saying all the right things in response to SRFATS shutting down. They both mention the need for players to "go home and concentrate on their families" (Bridich) and that "baseball has taken a little bit of a secondary phase to all of this" (Black).
Both men have told players to do what they can to stay in shape but have been assured by MLB that teams will get three weeks for a second spring training when (if? Both admitted the thought of the whole season being cancelled crossed their minds) that point comes. They also added that most players have been able to return home but Venezuela shut down all travel in or out of the country, so German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela have been forced to stay in the states.
What will happen when the games do return? Of course nothing has been officially decided, since the date of re-start is completely up in the air, but people are talking. Bud Black mentioned the idea of playing multiple doubleheaders a week in order to get as many games in as possible, which, hey, that could be fun! The AP story mentions what other teams are doing to help their players get ready but Black has advised against ramping up for game action and to treat this time like December. Considering December is just about the worst baseball-month of the year, that is not encouraging. I think Black speaks for most of us:
“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.”
Eno Sarris reports that the full shutdown model might be a recipe for disaster. He talks to sources who run training facilities for major league pitchers and sources inside the game who agree: if the downtime “isn’t managed with a sense of care and a knowledge of the existing research,” we’ll see a spike in injuries. Pitchers spend most of the offseason maintaining their arms and use spring training to build up the endurance to handle the arm stress of pitching in a major league game. Sarris spoke to a number of team sources with different ideas of what pitchers need to do but most admitted that, with facilities shutting down, the best most teams would be able to do would be to offer guidance, since monitoring directly is increasingly out of the question.
And finally, some reprieve for those of us who are simply itching for more baseball games. MLB.com has provided a list of 150 games—five for each team—that are available on YouTube to watch right now, no MLB.tv subscription required. Most of the games listed are clustered from 2007-2018, though there are a lot of playoff games from the 1990’s and some World Series clinching games from 1971, 1984, and 1985 listed as well. Can you guess which games are listed from the Rockies? I’ll give you a hint: they are all from 2010 to 2018.