Multiple teams canceled their morning workouts today, including the Nationals and Astros, due to the delays in receiving results of the COVID-19 testing over the weekend that’s done on a regular basis as camps opened across the country. Other teams have pushed back their workouts.
The Orioles gathered at Camden Yards for their fourth workout, pitchers and position players subjected to a stifling heat that’s never going to be the most pronounced health risk in 2020.
No one on the team is known to have opted out due to safety concerns, as former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis did this morning. Markakis, now with the Braves, joined a growing list of veterans with financial security and little motivation to ignore the warnings.
Markakis would have earned $4 million in a normal season.
Major League Baseball’s inability to execute the testing plan only a few days into workouts drapes the entire sport in a red flag. The holiday weekend could be the issue. Or something much bigger.
“It’s very unfortunate what’s really happening,” Orioles reliever Miguel Castro said via translator Ramón Alarcón during a Zoom conference call. “Right now, the best you can do is control what you can. Try to follow the protocols as best as possible, try to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your teammates as well.”
Players around the league are going public with their fears, whether or not they arrived in camp. Whether or not they stayed there.
Orioles center fielder Austin Hays got a feel for how the Orioles were handling the situation before deciding to play - if the season can go along uninterrupted.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys that are in certain situations or they’re living with people that are at high risk,” Hays said after following Castro in the Zoom rotation. “It’s all completely understandable underneath the circumstances. Everybody wants to do what’s best for them and safest for their families.
“I wanted to come around the facility and get to see what the environment as going to look like, and after being here a couple days and seeing how much time and effort has gone in from all the staff and all the clubhouse personnel and all of the adjustments they’ve been able to make to just make it the safest environment possible for everybody under the circumstances, I feel very comfortable and very safe here.”
Hays said he’s been tested three times in five days. He only knows what the Orioles are doing in their camp.
“I haven’t been in any other clubhouses, I haven’t been around many guys on other teams, so I can’t really speak on their behalf or how they feel or the adjustments that they’ve made,” Hays said. “But just off my personal experiences here so far and how few guys testing positive that we’ve had and how the players are reacting to all this stuff on our team and how we’re handling it and how safe everybody’s being and just how cautious everything is, I do feel really safe here, even though there’s been a lot of players test positive around the league.
“I think everything we’ve been doing so far is definitely sustainable and I think just the precautions that all of us are taking right now, if we just continue to be proactive with that and make smart decisions when we’re away from the field and basically just quarantine ourselves when we go back and basically you don’t see anybody besides your family or whoever you live with in your apartment or hotel room, I think we can continue to see the positive results that we have seen.”
Hays mentioned the protocol that’s followed each day, which includes an app to record any symptoms and temperature testing to make certain that no one has a fever.
“I just know that they’ve been really, really proactive with making sure that nobody is symptomatic before they show up to the field,” he said.
César Valdez, added to the camp roster after the shutdown, spent part of the morning pitching to Renato Núñez, Rio Ruiz, Chris Davis and José Iglesias. Valdez got three swings and misses from Davis. Núñez smoked a ball into left-center field.
Just another day in summer training camp. At least it happened.
From start to finish.
Let’s see what Tuesday morning brings.
“I’m really happy with how things are going here,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “We’ve been lucky enough to not have those issues. I’m really excited about how camp’s going for us. Our guys are ready to play an intrasquad and ready to get going. These first few days have gone really smooth, and credit to our coaching staff. (Head athletic trainer) Brian Ebel is the MVP of camp, what he’s been doing. And our strength staff and Brian’s staff. Yeah, we’re really happy with how things have gone so far.”
Hyde estimated that he speaks with Ebel about 30 times a day. They aren’t discussing the weather or Netflix binging. Players in two clubhouses and the scheduling quirks are only a few of the challenges.
Players are kept apprised of what’s happening around the league, in case they miss anything.
“I think everybody’s aware just because of the social media aspect,” Hyde said. “You know what’s going on everywhere to the minute, it seems like. As soon as somebody opts out or a team’s workout gets canceled, it’s posted and everybody knows about it. We’ve had a lot of discussions internally with our club about protocols. Just as much information as we can possibly give them, and I feel like that’s gone very well.
“We’re going to continue to talk daily about not only us, but what’s going on in the league. We don’t have the clubhouse meetings, so we have to be creative in how we communicate with our team - through text, through Zoom meetings. You have to be a little creative in how you put your message out there and we’re doing the best we can.”