Drayer: Mariners choosing to stick together despite season’s delay
Spring training may have been canceled and the start of the season pushed back seemingly indefinitely, but baseball activity will continue in Peoria as the vast majority of the members of the Mariners’ major league camp have decided to stay.
In his words, Friday was “a trying day” with lots of twists and turns for Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto.
At 9:15, members of major league camp met for a meeting to give the players an update on what to expect over the weekend as MLB and the Players Association mapped out what should happen next. Would the players stay at their spring training homes? Would they be allowed to go home?
A few hours later, the players were called back and told that they had the option to go home if they wished. Dipoto asked the players to let them know by noon what their individual decisions were.
Of the 49 players remaining in camp, as of Friday evening 43 have elected to stay with only three choosing to go home for what Dipoto believed to be family reasons, just one of those players from the 40-man roster. A little sunlight for Dipoto after the recent dark days.
“We are pretty excited that the players want to stay together and frankly we think that’s probably a good thing for the health and well being of the group,” he said.
What will that look like? First and foremost, the Mariners want to do their best to ensure the safety of their players in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. To that end, the complex will undergo a deep cleaning on Sunday. After that, players will begin a schedule of workouts at the complex, but in smaller groups.
Rather than have everyone at the facility at once, those who stay will be split into two or three workout groups that do not overlap. Gone will be the hustle and bustle that is normally seen in the back halls of the complex as front office members are being sent home to work remotely. The media will not be allowed at the complex at all which will eliminate the need for the media relations staff to be there. A number of coaches will be sent home as well.
“We do feel strongly that the wise thing to do from a health and wellness perspective is keep it to smaller groups,” said Dipoto.
Also gone from the complex, the 150-160 minor leaguers who occupied a third of the building. With the exception of those who are undergoing rehab, they have all been sent home.
“We have no real target date for what the start of their season might look like,” said Dipoto of the minor league players. “For the most part that is a very young group that we didn’t want to put in a difficult position. It would also be very difficult to manage smaller groups coming and going with that kind of volume, nor did we feel it was wise to choose some to stay and send others home. We felt that wouldn’t be fair.”
The group that stays will hold daily workouts that resemble what you see in Peoria in January/February and the earliest days of spring training. Workouts will be limited to just a couple of hours a day. Players can receive treatment, get in the weight room, hit in the cages and throw bullpens if they like. They are not planning on doing anything on the field -drills, sim games, live BPs – for the foreseeable future.
“We have no expectation of playing anytime soon,” said Dipoto.
Manager Scott Servais will stay in Peoria with the club as will Dipoto, the lone representative of the front office. With logistical questions answered and important decisions made in the last 24 hours, they can now start to move forward.
“We tried as best we could to create the safety within this environment and we think we did the best we could with that,” Dipoto said. “Our players have been great. Obviously very disappointing that we have had to effectively pull the plug on Spring Training, but considering the circumstances it’s the appropriate measure.”