Drayer: Mariners expected to reopen spring training facility next week

May 22, 2020, 1:33 PM | Updated: 4:13 pm
Mariners Peoria Complex...
The Mariners are expected to reopen their Peoria spring training complex for players next week. (Getty)

It’s been 10 weeks since spring training was halted and it would appear we are facing what will prove to be a pivotal week in determining whether or not we see baseball in 2020 as MLB is expected to present their compensation proposal to the MLBPA early next week. In the meantime, several teams have opened or, as is the case with the Mariners, are in the process of opening their spring training facilities to players to begin working out.

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“Opening the facility next week is now allowed, with the goal being to provide the space for guys to increase their activity,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said via text while noting that the dates are still being finalized and players still being notified.

With Arizona and Florida now allowing teams to return, a number of them including the Yankees, Mets and Cardinals have done so. The Rangers and Rays have allowed workouts in their home ballparks with Texas players taking batting practice in recent weeks at the new Globe Life Field, and a number of Rays conditioning this week at Tropicana Field. There have been reports of the Padres working out at Petco Park as well.

For the Mariners, the work players have been able to put in since the shutdown has been varied. Some have home gyms others have been limited to what they can do with resistance bands and other creative methods the coaching and training staff has been able to cook up.

Hitting has been a challenge for some, but others like Tim Lopes and Jared Kelenic have had access to hitting facilities. Justin Dunn, Jake Fraley, Evan White and Jose Marmolejos have all been able to work out and hit at a facility together near the complex in Arizona.

For the majority of the shutdown, players have been told to stay in maintenance or late winter mode with Mariners coaches and trainers monitoring their activity. In the past week a number of players who have had better access to facilities have been given the okay to start increasing their activity levels.

If MLB and the Players Union are able to come to agreement on a plan to return, it appears teams will be given the option of holding spring training part two either in their home parks where allowed or at their spring training facilities.

While playing at home would have the benefit of most players having to relocate just once, some players have expressed concern about not having enough pitching mounds or places to hit. It’s conceivable the Mariners could utilize another field in the area, perhaps at Cheney Stadium, but the Peoria complex is better equipped to handle training a group of what is expected to be upwards of 50 players. Of course any plan to train in Washington would require the sign off of state and local officials with King County currently in Phase 1 of the reopening plan.

There would also be the possibility of games against other clubs in Arizona while in Seattle, the team would be limited to intrasquad scrimmages. The Mariners have explored both possibilities and at this moment are not leaning in one direction or the other.

For those looking for baseball to return, this would appear to be a positive step, but there are still many hurdles to be overcome with the agreement. If that agreement is reached and a start date is set, players will need time to get to wherever they need to be and tests will need to be taken to ensure everyone is healthy before bringing larger groups together.

One plus for the Mariners is it does not appear they have any players who would be part of the restart who are currently outside of the country. For now, agreement or no agreement, there will be baseball activity in Peoria soon.

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Mariners’ Dipoto: Reports and discussions on MLB’s return are encouraging

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