SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are remaining at their spring training complexes through the weekend while executives wait for further guidance from public officials and Major League Baseball.
Placed on a conference call with local media this afternoon, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias provided an update on the situation, including how players and staff were kept away from the facility while it underwent a second deep cleaning, and said that no one has been tested for the coronavirus due to the lack of any alarming symptoms.
The holding pattern has gone undisturbed.
Elias said he’s hoping to have further details “early next week about what the remainder of spring training looks like.”
“But in the meantime our plan is to keep our players and staff members here,” he said. “We did close our facilities today both at Twins Lakes and at Ed Smith Stadium to players and staff as the Orioles have decided to clean the facilities, assess protocols and plans for the next few days.
“We are approaching our plans for the next couple of days on a day-by-day basis. I’m in contact with the baseball operations staff and Brandon (Hyde) and everyone involved in the organization in figuring out what our plans are as we await a little further guidance from the league and the players association. But overall, the Orioles organization from the top all the way through our medical staff and baseball operations staff and business staff has been very proactive on making sure that we have the right approach, the right protocols with the health and safety of our players and our staff members and the community around our camp being the main priority right now.”
Teams have been instructed to keep their players in camp unless there are extenuating circumstances.
“We are very intent on keeping everyone here until told otherwise,” Elias said. “No. 1, this camp is still active and we don’t have any indication that that will change. But also, we feel that preventing unnecessary travel, keeping everyone in the area, keeping one another in close contact with us is the best way to go. And I know that all 30 major league camps are taking that approach and it is something that has been very strongly directed toward the players and anyone who is at a spring training camp by Major League Baseball and the Players Association.”
“Everyone in baseball is very interested in just keeping all of our people under watch here in the area and the players understand that,” Elias said, “but obviously we will react to any individual circumstances that arise.”
The Orioles have 54 players in camp and will hold workouts and other internal activities that don’t involve bringing in nearby teams.
“We certainly have large enough numbers both at the major league and minor league sides to make that work and get the work in that we need done,” Elias said. “But I suspect that in the very short term this is something that we assess on a daily basis and adjust and then we will probably have different guidance from MLB and so we’re just going to be real flexible and communicative with one another and do the right thing every day.”
These workouts and activities will be closed to the public.
Roster cuts are put on hold, again until the team receives the necessary information that allows them to conduct business in a more standard manner.
“That’s something that we’re going to have to wait for more guidance from Major League Baseball and the players association because it is possible that with the calendar being tweaked at a minimum that the sort of normal timeline for end of spring training events might reasonably be subject to change,” Elias said.
“We’re kind of in a holding pattern there. I expect that we may get some more clarity on that possibly as soon as next week, but we don’t know. And in the meantime we’re just going to have status quo as much as we can.”
Another lingering uncertainty is how the schedule will play out after the season is allowed to commence. Being pushed back at least two weeks delays opening day until at least April 9.
“I think we are all poised for the possibility of changes to that,” Elias said.
“It’s such a fluid situation on a level above and beyond baseball that clearly we’re going to react to whatever the public health needs are at any given time. We support the decision to delay the season and press pause on spring training, and I know that the league office is working very hard on figuring out when and where is the right time to reactivate the sport. But right now we’ve just got to do what’s in the best interests of public healthy, but also the players and people who work for the teams.”
Scouts throughout baseball have been pulled from the road and instructed to go home.
“It’s definitely having an impact on everyone’s scouting and draft preparations,” Elias said. “The scout travel for the Orioles and across the league has dramatically slowed and been reduced and that’s not just because of recommendations that we’re giving to our scouts, but the amateur baseball landscape has almost totally shut down over the next couple of weeks, so there’s really not much to go out and scout right now. So we’ll see.
“I know the league is monitoring this topic in terms of, does it make sense to make any changes to the draft? I just think we’re too early to know that and we’ll have to see how this plays out, but it has certainly disrupted the scouting calendar quite a bit.”
Elias didn’t know if there are measures in place to compensate stadium workers for wages lost during the shutdown.
“I’ve been really focused on baseball operation matters, so I wouldn’t be the authority to address questions like that pertaining to ballpark and business operations, especially on this short notice,” Elias said. “But I know that the whole organizational leadership is kind of working overtime to address every aspect of this crisis and I’m sure everything’s being looked at.”
Elias sought a more normal spring training in his second year in the front office, but it’s been the exact opposite.
An organization floored by news of Trey Mancini’s colon cancer and the surgery that transpired yesterday to remove a malignant tumor now must figure its way around a stoppage in games and the threat posed by a pandemic.
“It’s been quite a week,” he said.
“With Trey Mancini’s surgery and then this happening concurrently, we’ve certainly been handling medical topics and logistical topics all week, it seems like. Some very strange circumstances. But I feel really good about the support system that we’ve been provided at the league level, but also our medical staff is first-rate and we’ve got a really good setup here in Florida on a number of fronts with our facilities and the support staff and the people that run the facilities. So it’s gone about as smooth as it could have gone at this point in terms of doing what we need to do, but we’re just going to stay on high alert and react to the situation as new facts come out.
“This has happened really fast for everybody. Just yesterday, we were loading up on a bus to go to Fort Myers, and all of a sudden, we weren’t, so I haven’t had too much time to process everyone’s individual feelings. I think we’re just all dealing with this. But I do feel like everyone feels secure here knowing that we’ve got a big support system here in terms of medical personnel and everything you could imagine. And from what I understand, the players understand that this is the best place that they can be right now.”
Elias has spoken with Mancini’s family.
“I think we’re going to have a lot more information on Trey and the outlook and the timeline soon, and we will certainly provide all of that information once it becomes available and fully understood, but I can say that he’s doing really well,” Elias said. “I think his procedure and where he’s at right now is about as positive as possible of his spirits and his physical feeling right now, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and take this as it comes. But he’s doing really well and the operation went very well.”
Update: MLB and the union are now allowing players to go home rather than encouraging them to stay at their respective complexes. There won’t be formal team workouts.
Players also have the choice of heading to their team’s city.
How this impacts the Orioles isn’t known at the moment.