New version of spring training removes formal workouts

SARASOTA, Fla. - Players were told to stay yesterday and then encouraged to leave. Because spring training wasn’t going to conclude without making another run at crazy.

Teams aren’t holding formal workouts, a stunning reversal from where we were led earlier in the day. The benefits of keeping everyone together seemed to crumble before our eyes.

Getting ready for the season is a secondary concern in a pandemic.

There’s no way that opening day is happening on April 9, the earliest date possible in Major League Baseball’s press release issued on Thursday. Players will need to restart their engines and regain whatever edge is lost.

It might seem unreasonable to expect everyone to hang around the Ed Smith Stadium complex in order to hit in the indoor cage, though that’s one of three options along with going home or to Baltimore. I’ve heard that coaches were told to return home, but also that details were being worked out last night and a player and staff head count hadn’t been determined.

Players met last night to vote whether to stay or go. The majority of them, if not all, were expected to remain in Sarasota as a sign of unity - just as the Yankees are doing.

Pitchers will have to find ways to keep sharp.

At least they’ve got more time to heal.

Cobb-Handing-Ball-to-Hyde-White-Sidebar.jpgDoes anyone remember when, for a few fleeting moments, Alex Cobb’s blister seemed like a big deal?

Not so much now.

Cobb threw a simulated game Thursday morning in Sarasota and it proved to be the last baseball action we’d get to witness. Had I known what was coming, I would have been more excited about it.

The hand didn’t seem to bother Cobb as he worked multiple “innings,” but he’s no longer pressed to get ready by March 26. Some storylines dissolve while others form.

The same goes for Tommy Milone, who also pitched a simulated game on Thursday. Milone’s camp was interrupted by tightness in his left trapezius and he made only one Grapefruit League start, totaling one more inning than Cobb.

The Orioles still have 54 players on the camp roster. There are lots of cuts coming, but we don’t know when since the season is pushed back.

Rosters don’t appear to be frozen, but I wouldn’t expect much activity in the near future.

Could a later start to the season bring back into play the free agent pitchers who have been sitting home?

Probably not, because of the truncated exhibition schedule, unless the Orioles think they can get a starter ready through simulated and intrasquad games, as well as a bunch of side sessions that would have to be part of the informal workouts.

The Orioles never got the chance to announce John Means as their opening day starter. They didn’t confirm a fifth starter or the entire composition of their eight-man bullpen. They haven’t chosen their utility players or backup catcher.

There’s so much work to be done and more time to do it.

Preparing for a season that seems less likely to extend the full 162 games.

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