SARASOTA, Fla. - For at least one day, rotation battles, utility roster spots and bullpen competitions took a back seat. One that was way, way in the back.
Today was eventful and even emotional, filled with uncertainty and producing some answers but also even more questions.
Today was a day we found out much more about Trey Mancini’s medical situation. That news came less than three hours after we found out that Major League Baseball canceled the remaining spring training games and would start the regular season at least two weeks late due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Eventful, newsworthy and emotional, indeed.
Sports are shutting down and it’s a time when the health of the citizens is most critical. Wins and losses don’t matter right now. No one is talking about ground balls, analytics, roster spots, injuries or anything else much today. Even the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal gets knocked out of the limelight.
We don’t yet know if the Orioles will continue to stay together as a team in spring training. Will there be daily workouts without games? Will they play intrasquad games? How will they finalize the 26-man roster? Perhaps we’ll find out more on that tomorrow. It’s play it by ear for now.
Orioles player rep Chris Davis met with reporters this afternoon on a beautiful day for a game at Ed Smith Stadium. But there wasn’t a game today for the Orioles and won’t be until April 10 at the earliest.
“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,” said Davis. “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.”
As for Mancini, hopefully today’s positive news will lead to more positive medical news and he’ll return to the team when he’s able. He means much more to the Orioles than just the stats he produces in a box score. He’s a leader - a real leader who has the respect and attention of his teammates. He means so much to Baltimore. He’s quickly embraced the city as home. We saw this when he took over Adam Jones’ tailgate before a Ravens home game. He cares so much about the Orioles and badly wants to be in orange and black for his entire career. The team is losing now but he is so upbeat about the club’s future and he’d like nothing more to be one of the players to lead the charge back to winning baseball.
On a team that lost 108 games last year, there are few unreplaceable players. Mancini is one. They need him. But just like with this virus, his health right now and getting it completely back, easily tops anything to do with the game.
So there was not a game to talk about today, but there were plenty of other things happening on a day unlike any other I’ve encountered in February or March under the Florida sun.