SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles won’t be playing any more spring training games due to coronavirus pandemic, but whether they hold workouts at their facility or head back home is one of the issues that’s unresolved.
Player representative Chris Davis said there isn’t much clarity as the team waits for the next set of instructions.
“I think a lot of it is up in the air,” he said while again sitting outside the media workroom at the allotted six-foot perimeter. “Hopefully, in the next few days, there are going to be more answers to the questions that we’ve had, but right now we’re just in a holding pattern.”
Major League Baseball announced today that exhibition games would cease at 4 p.m. and the start of the regular season would be pushed back at least two weeks.
“Pretty shocked, just kind of how quickly things have escalated,” Davis said.
“Obviously, all the announcements coming out the last few hours, the stance that MLB has taken, the players, the teams, every organization, what they’re doing to protect us, and to protect the fans and our families and everybody involved, it’s just a lot to take in. I think there are so many questions I have and I know a bunch of guys have approached me with questions that I just don’t have answers to, and I think really in the next couple days, hopefully we can get a little bit more clarity, but right now it’s just, it’s doesn’t seem real.”
The Orioles issued the following statement this afternoon:
“The Orioles organization is fully supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. The health and safety of our players, fans, staff, and partners will always be our top priority. We will communicate additional details, including information about refunds, directly to fans when they become available, as this is a rapidly-evolving situation. We encourage everyone to continue to follow the important guidelines established by the CDC and other public health organizations.”
Players understand the reasoning. They’ve been carrying the same concerns as the rest of the world.
The fears poke through baseball’s bubble.
“I do,” Davis said. “It doesn’t ever take away from the initial shock, but I understand what their thought process is and I know there are a lot of things we can’t control and the things we can control, we need to do our best to protect ourselves, our families and everybody involved. So I completely understand where they’re coming from and what they’re thinking right now.”
The Orioles stayed back rather than make the trip to Fort Myers while waiting for MLB to issue its decision. They were inside the clubhouse when told that exhibition games no longer would be held.
“It’s disappointing,” Davis said. “I think there’s some frustration with just how much is up in the air really. We just don’t really know what’s going to happen. But looking ahead, knowing now that the season’s going to be pushed back at least two weeks, it just changes a lot of things for us. Guys with families, guys with plans to move out or start packing. It’s just going to change a lot of things, but obviously it’s for the best of everybody involved. It’s just a weird situation, to be honest with you.”
Davis expressed a preference to hold workouts at the Ed Smith Stadium complex rather than have teammates scatter.
“Try to keep it as consistent and as normal as possible,” he said, “but I also understand that may not be the case, so we’ll see how it goes in the next few days.”
Players could meet again to discuss that option - if it actually rests in their sanitized hands.
“I think right now we’re just going to kind of see what happens with owners and with MLB,” Davis said, “see what kind of decisions they make, what kind of direction they’re planning on heading and do what we can.”
Today’s outcome didn’t sneak up on the Orioles. They’ve been kept abreast of the situation by the Major League Baseball Players Association and monitored how other sports were handling it.
MLB is just keeping in step with everyone else.
“The last few days, obviously we’ve had a lot of conversations about what might transpire, what could possibly happen, some of the options that we were presented with,” Davis said. “There were just so many unknowns. I don’t think we knew the NBA, the NHL, we didn’t know those guys were going to make the moves that they did. They’ve been emailing, texting, several phone conversations over the past couple of days, just to kind of get an idea what the guys are thinking, what we’re saying, what’s going on in the clubhouse.
“I think after this morning, when more and more information started coming out about the NBA and then you started hearing the NHL, their thoughts and their stance, that’s when you start to think, ‘Are we going to be next? Are we going to be the last one to kind of hold strong or are we going to make the same move?’ There were so many unknowns, but now we have a little bit of an idea what’s going to happen. But there’s still a lot of time over the next few days and a lot of things that need to be discussed.”
Davis has his wife, Jill, and three young daughters with him in Sarasota. Players are worried about their families as well.
“Jill and I have talked about it over the last few weeks,” Davis said, “just making sure we’re even more conscious of being healthy, practicing personal hygiene, washing our hands. With little kids, you can’t wash your hands enough times during the day, so we’ve been talking about it the last couple of weeks.
“You do everything you can, but at the same time you can’t 100 percent protect yourself from getting sick.”
Davis was driving to the Twins complex when told to come back to Sarasota, his truck heading down Interstate 75 south. It provided another strange element to a bizarre day - one that he thinks is unrivaled in his career. And this is a guy who played a game at Camden Yards with no fans.
“Hands down. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to, to be honest,” Davis said. “Just a very odd situation.”