If they do end up playing baseball this year, which is the least of our worries right now, with the U.S. and the rest of the world dealing with the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, it will take some time for the pitchers and position players to build back up after the decision to shut things down in the middle of last month brought an abrupt halt to the work that was underway to prepare for the start of the 2020 campaign.
Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked in his first conference call after the start of the new season was postponed indefinitely, about his club being ready to play when there is a firm start date for the season, and he said again this past Monday, in his second of what he said he hopes will be weekly talks with reporters, that everyone is doing all they can to stay sharp so that they can build up to play when and if they finally do get going again.
“As far as the training and preparing, we have — all our pitchers have been in contact with Paul Menhart, our pitching coach,” Rizzo explained.
“They are following their throwing programs, and our hitters alike have been in constant contact with [Hitting Coach] Kevin Long and [Assistant Hitting Coach] Pat Roessler.
“They all have their plans in place. There are some kind of inventive ways that they’re keeping in shape and conditioning and staying as ready as they can to participate in baseball whenever that takes place.”
The defending World Series champions are not alone in the limbo they currently find themselves in while everyone waits for this situation to play out.
The majority of the country and all professional sports have been brought to a standstill.
“Many in the industry are in the same situation as we are,” Rizzo said.
“We’re doing the best we can amid a lot of unknowns. We continue to rely on the [Centers for Disease Control], the World Health Organization, and MLB as our resources.
“We’re certainly going to follow their protocols and their recommendations to the letter, and as the Commissioner recently said, when it’s safe to play baseball, baseball will be back, and our fans will be back and it will be part of the recovery process in the country, but safety and health is paramount.”
For now, however, the Nationals, and everyone else, are just waiting for word that it’s safe to go back to some semblance of a normal routine.
As for what he said were “inventive ways” that players were trying to stay in shape?
“Guys are going to get their swings in, they’re going to get their throwing programs in,” Rizzo said, “... in sometimes very unique ways and it’s oftentimes the lucky ones have facilities at their homes that they can work out diligently, some don’t.
“Some players are capable of getting their throwing programs in easier than others, but believe me, we’re finding ways and the players are finding ways to keep themselves [in shape] and be ready to ramp up when the need arises.”
Rizzo, who’s been through a great deal in the last 12 months, with his club winning it all this past October, before his father passed away this winter, was asked how he is handling it all personally.
“I’m isolated like everybody else,” Rizzo said, but he’s doing what he can to oversee things until they’re told that it’s safe to return to what everyone was building towards this Spring.
“We’re definitely adhering to the policies of the CDC. I think it’s important for all of us to stay home, stay away from people, and so we’re doing that.
“We’re very busy. There are a lot of moving parts with what’s going on in the game right now, so we’re in constant contact. I’m speaking to ownership quite a bit, speaking to our staff, quite a it.
“We’ve got some projects that we’re working on as far as long range projects since we have a little bit of down-time, but some specific projects for the 2020 season as far as readiness and preparation and that type of thing.
“It’s impossible to put together any kind of player development type of schedule until we get a little more clarity, but we’re in constant contact with our amateur scouting staff about the draft, and our player development staff on our minor leagues, and our major league staff also.
“We’re keeping ourselves busy, there are a lot of conversations to have and for being in such a unique situation, we’re communicating well, and we feel that we’re as well-positioned as you can possibly be in this type of scenario.”