CHICAGO (AP) – Forget those early days of training in the spring, when it is often more difficult to find the right start on the right golf course than field work.
When the major leagues show up next week for Spring Training 2.0 – or perhaps more precisely, the first baseball summer camp – time will be a precious commodity with about three weeks to go.
“We are going to have some live batting practice the first day they show up. Day 1 and Day 2. … Several climbs for beginners, “Kansas City director Mike Matheny said Friday in a video conference. “These guys are ready for this. They were hungry. “
Across the majors, the race is putting together travel plans and developing the final training details before a relentless season of just 60 games. After coronavirus admission testing and a mandatory quarantine period pending results, team training sessions will likely begin next weekend.
The regular season begins on July 23 and 24, leaving players a short preparation period and a delicate balance for managers trying to prepare their teams while worrying about potential health problems that could appear more frequently over a period of time. truncated drive.
“I think the biggest problem will be just the build-up,” said White Sox catcher James McCann. “I honestly think everyone has done everything they can to stay in shape, from the pitchers to the hitters. But there are only so many swings in a cage and as many adrenaline-free bulls as you can throw.
“There is a reason why we have six weeks of training in the spring, in a typical spring training.”
There is a particular concern for beginners, who take great care in building up their arms over a long period. This is one of the reasons why the active teams will count 30 players during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said they could start the year with as many as 17 pitchers.
“We have a group of guys who are much more advanced than I expected,” said Counsell. “So I’m not as concerned about this as I would have thought at the start when we left in mid-March. They all start a regular program. They all threw hitters. Now the challenge when we increase the intensity, what does the recovery look like? This is probably the thing I will think about the most. “
While spring training was suspended on March 12, the players weren’t exactly seated all this time. McCann worked in the barn of former Cubs utility Ben Zobrist in Tennessee. White Sox ace Lucas Giolito said he faced batters in northern California, all from junior high school leagues.
“On a roughly weekly basis, I get a few arenas, a live paddock against batters here in Sacramento,” he said. “And I’m right now like going up and down three times, I guess you could say, where I simulate three innings, even sometimes extending the innings just to get the pitch count.”
Beyond the injury and coronavirus issues, space is also an issue for the baseball summer camp. While the spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona have several playing fields that players can use, teams are going to have to make the most of their home ball fields and a handful of facilities. region.
This means staggered tee times for player training and extended days for coaching staff. It also means meetings in airy stadium halls instead of cramped pavilions so players can observe social distancing guidelines designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s basically about using all parts of the facility very wisely and efficiently and I think with the initial plan we have, it works like that,” said Pirates director Derek Shelton. . “The only thing for the staff part, it’s going to be a longer day because we’re dealing with one area and you’re talking about BP live and preparing guys. We will have to be very efficient. “
Some places are better suited to the task than others. The domed stadiums will give their teams more reliability for their schedules. The Diamondbacks will use Chase Field and their spring training center in Scottsdale, a short drive from their baseball stadium.
“It just creates a slightly longer day,” said Counsell. “We will do all the work we need to do. Intra-team games will play an important role in this matter. We will use both clubs. The space is very good, but a field lengthens the day, I think. “
Source: AP News