When spring training shut down, players were left to practice at home or in private gyms all around the country in order to stay and shape and be ready for the restart. According to The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, an impressive group of players in the Palm Beach, Fla. area were able to train in a socially distanced way at a Cressey Sports Performance gym. The attendance sheet was impressive: “Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton and more than 30 other big leaguers had quietly been working together – from a safe distance.” Ghiroli also noted that “There were no known cases of the virus among players at Cressey’s gyms.”
Guess who else was there? Florida native and Colorado reliever Tyler Kinley.
Eric Cressey, an owner of the gym, said they prioritized safety and secrecy to keep players healthy and keep crowds from gathering: “The health and safety part was hard. We had to have really small groups, use all 10,000 square feet of the facility. But the security aspect of it was probably even more challenging, to be discreet and give these guys an element of privacy. Guys were saying it was like ‘Fight Club’ or Prohibition baseball.”
They played two nine-inning games (with as much distancing as possible and extra rules to make it safe), they pitched, they hit, and they gave each other feedback. They even had to buy their own balls.
Kinley, a 29-year-old righty, played for the Marlins in 2019 and the Marlins and Twins in 2018. The Rockies signed Kinley in December after Miami placed him on waivers. In 52 games for Miami last year, Kinley posted a 3.65 ERA and 1.601 WHIP in 49 1/3 innings. If you have been following Purple Row’s Sim Rockies this season, Sim Tyler Kinley has been the best pitcher on the team in terms of ERA (1.98) and WHIP (0.910). Entering this week, in 28 2/3 innings over 28 relief appearances, he’s only given up six runs, while recording nine saves, 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings compared to 3.5 walks per nine innings, 33 total strikeouts, and a 2-0 record.
The Palm Beach “Fight Club” of baseball is hoping that their ability to not only to train, but also to play against All-Stars will give them a leg up on the competition this season, which is scheduled to start July 23. With Kinley pitching with the likes of Verlander and Scherzer, on top of his outstanding stats in Purple Row’s simulated season, which can’t hurt even in their fictitious state, hopefully Kinley can be a reliable arm in the Colorado bullpen this year and beyond.
This article starts with the disclaimer that the probability of the MLB, NBA, and/or NHL restarting at the end of this month seems to be shrinking with players testing positive for COVID-19 and outbreaks hitting record highs in many places across the country. However, John Reidy also expresses a sincere hope that there will be sports and lists the pros and cons for the Nuggets, Avalanche, and Rockies in their new 2020 season formats.
While the pros for the Nuggets and Avs include strong chances of postseason runs and underdog chances for titles, the Rockies didn’t get that pro from Mile High Sports, understandably. But, there is an odd comment of the con of not having fans enjoy summertime at Coors Field: “The Rockies seem optimistic that some fans may be in attendance at some point but seeing the team win the pennant while being able to hear a fart on the Party Deck doesn’t have the same appeal.” Like Lloyd Christmas’s one-in-a-million chances with Mary, it does seem as if Mile High Sports believes there is a chance for the Rockies to win the pennant.
The pros include fans being able to watch games on TV, which would make summer feel more real, and the universal DH would keep gloves out of the hands of unnamed “lesser skilled” players. The other cons list hearing the calls from Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson (which seems a fairly harsh in my opinion) and the extra-inning rule of putting a runner on second that would doom Colorado’s pitchers because of their likelihood of “getting singled to death.”
After praising Ian Desmond for his “elegant and honest” Instagram post about opting out of the 2020 season, Bradford William Davis examines the value of Colorado’s signing of Matt Kemp. To sum it up, he’s a big fan of it. While Kemp is aging, injury-prone of late, and lost a step or two in the field, he’s always put on a show at Coors Field. Davis explains that in a regular 162-game season, this wouldn’t have been a good acquisition. But in a 60-game season where the National League has a DH, the signing is brilliant. He even admits that the Rockies weren’t expected to do well this season, but in a rule-altered, short sprint, all bets are off. He concludes with a great line: “Kemp is lotto ticket, obviously. But the only way to psyche yourself into playing sports in 2020 is by believing luck is on your side.”
In a pre-COVID-19 world, Ryan Rolison was an exciting left-handed pitching prospect to keep an eye on as he climbed the MiLB ladder with a successful Class A-Advanced season in Lancaster in 2019 and a promising move to the Double-A Yard Goats in 2020. Instead, he is on the non-roster taxi squad for the Rockies and could very likely make his MLB debut if a 2020 season happens. Rolison was Colorado’s first-round pick in 2018 and Purple Row ranked him as the current No. 2 prospect in the organization behind only Brendan Rodgers. Because Rolison “is consistently around the strike zone and knows how to use his entire four-pitch mix,” this article picks him as the prospect to watch for the Rockies.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!