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Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales
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M’s Check-In: How Marco Gonzales is handling unexpected off-time

Marco Gonzales had been set to start opening day for the Mariners. (AP)

Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales was was supposed standing on the mound on opening day in front of a packed house at T-Mobile Park with a season of possibilities before him. Instead, he found himself where most of us are these days – at home, staying in to stay safe and keep others safe.

Previously: Mariners’ Haniger has ways to help those in quarantine

“I don’t know really know how I feel,” Gonzales answered Tuesday on a conference call with reporters when asked how he was dealing with the mental side of not being able to play baseball. “It’s definitely weird thinking we should be playing now.”

Gonzales stayed in touch with teammates throughout what was supposed to be opening day last Thursday, then got in a good workout in his home gym to try to relieve some of the stress of the situation. Now he prefers not to think about it at all.

“I didn’t really know how to feel,” he said. “Trying to think of myself on that schedule, trying to envision myself going to the park, it is a tough time. I’m trying to take my mind off that and try to look forward. It starts to bum me out when I do that.”

One bright note for Gonzales right before the opening day that wasn’t: MLB and the MLBPA came to an important agreement on a number of player/team issues that needed to be settled with the season pushed back indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. Gonzales, the Mariners players’ representative in 2019, was heartened to find that the two sides were able to get on the same page quickly in a crisis situation.

“Both the PA and MLB are very very adamant about playing as many games as we can right now. That was our main focus,” he said. “Play resuming, service time, the pay, I would say the negotiations are healthy. I think that we reached a great agreement for the players. I am excited for hopefully what this brings going forward because I think when we do have this common issue, we did see that we were able to come together on an agreement.”

Gonzales said that he is in favor of any option that gets as many games in as long as player health and safety is put first and foremost.

“If and when that line gets crossed, obviously we have to change what we are doing,” he said. “There will be a cutoff date where we won’t be playing games too late into the fall. Obviously weather is an issue. There are concerns in there that lines won’t be crossed but I am in favor of getting in as many games as we can. It favors everyone. The fans, the ownership group, the players. I think it is the right thing to do.”

So he waits with the rest of us – and like most of us, he waits in Seattle. Gonzales, his wife Monica and dog Louie returned to their home in Seattle about a week ago after the Mariners spring training complex had been shut down. It is a plan they had made a few weeks earlier but hoped they wouldn’t have to execute. He has a well-equipped gym in his basement and a throwing partner for long toss in new Mariners utility player Patrick Wisdom, who he’s been friends with since both were in the Cardinals farm system.

“I’m just keeping my arm strength built up in a sustainable stage of long toss for maybe a few more weeks and then we will kind of work into some mound work,” Gonzales said. “Fortunately we built up a lot of strength in camp and now we are given the chance to add on a little bit without creating more tension. We are just trying to stay loose and maintain what we have.”

As for the rest of the hours of the day? The Mariners have a players-only group on a messaging service that they have been using to keep in touch. The Gonzaleses have been making it a point to get outside with dog walks and runs. They have been doing puzzles and playing games but it is not quite filling the void that baseball has left.

“My wife would say that I need a healthy outlet to compete,” he said. “We are still trying to figure out what this year will look like, in a lot of ways. I think once we have a date on the books, things will become more clear for us. It is an interesting thing for an athlete to go through to have a start of a season on the books and now have it scratched. Not only that, we don’t know when we are going to start or if we are going to start.

“It is a confusing time.”

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Read Shannon’s Get To Know Your Mariners series

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