Drayer: Mariners CEO John Stanton details how M’s will return to action
With baseball set to return July 23 or 24, Mariners chairman John Stanton took time out Wednesday from finalizing plans to allow the Mariners to begin training next week at T-Mobile Park for the upcoming season to talk to 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton. His outlook for the season, enthusiastic.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” Stanton said, likening the shortened season to all teams starting out at 51-51. “There are innovative things with the rules that may well incorporate into future seasons – baseball is back and I hope everyone is as excited as I am.”
As for reports that there were as many as eight owners who took a different stance and preferred to not play the season, Stanton believes those reports were not accurate.
“Bluntly, the owners were united, every vote that I participated in were unanimous,” he said. “Every one of those people is incredibly excited about the season. I don’t think there’s anyone who really didn’t want to play this season, I can understand an argument because we are all losing a bunch of money but frankly, it’s good for the sport, it’s good for the communities we operate in and that’s what we focused on.”
Stanton confirmed that all of the Mariners’ training would be done at T-Mobile Park and that the team will take a 60-man player pool into the season, with 30 on the big league roster for opening day, then cut down to 28 two weeks later and 26 after the following two weeks. A 30-man taxi squad will also be in play, and it will include players who can immediately take over as injury replacements as well as top prospects – perhaps even Seattle’s two most recent first-round picks, Emerson Hancock and George Kirby.
The taxi squad will work out offsite, and those players will be subject to the same health and safety protocol the big leaguers will undergo. In addition to the MLB protocol, the Mariners have a separate health and safety handbook, with the two documents totaling 188 pages.
“We have a couple more hoops to jump through but we are working that through,” said Stanton. “The state and the county have been incredibly thoughtful in trying to do the right thing. They and we have one priority and that is the health and safety of our players and employees, and that is what the conversations have been about and I think we will be back in T-Mobile in no time.”
Once back, Stanton hopes the Mariners can provide more than just the games on the field.
“The natural distancing that occurs in the sport, the ability for us to control the interactions, make sure everyone is wearing masks. Not only do we have a sport that I think can be healthy and safe, we are also going to be a role model for the community. You are going to see Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon in masks and that’s positive reinforcement to the policies of the government.”