Getting baseball started again should not be high on anyone’s list of the things that we, as a country, need to do right now, but eventually we all want to see MLB teams playing again, as soon as it’s safe to do so. If they’re going to play this season, they’ll need to ramp back up to the start of real games, with or without fans in attendance, because it’s been 42 days now since Spring Training came to an abrupt halt back on March 12th.
Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette earlier this week that it will take some time to get everyone ready to play games once it’s determined it’s safe to gather in large groups, and the COVID-19 pandemic is less of a threat.
“I’m not sure what the duration of Spring Training needs to be to have a healthy player breaking Spring Training camp,” Rizzo said.
“I think Spring Training 2.0, if you will, will be dependent upon where the players are at at that time. Now we’ve gone through a couple of weeks of Spring Training prior, it will be a long shutdown, but what have the players done in that interim is going to be the key to when your particular pitchers — and most of this is about getting the pitchers stretched out and ready to pitch — I think that depends on what you’re doing in the interim to keep yourself stretched out and have as many reps as you can going into this second portion of Spring Training. I think that will determine what we’re going to do and how early we can start these camps up after we start with another workout period.”
“I’m lucky,” Ryan Zimmerman told reporters on a conference call this past Monday morning, when the 35-year-old, 15-year veteran was asked what he was doing to stay in shape as he’s at home with his family.
“We have a pretty good set-up in the basement here where I can do some strength stuff.
“We have one of those Peloton bikes, so I’ve really been doing a lot of that just to keep my cardio and everything up.”
As for baseball activity, however, Zimmerman said it’s been a while at this point.
“Baseball-wise, I haven’t done anything really,” he explained.
“I mean, we were going to the field here for a few times, that was weeks ago now, until they shut that down, so we had kind of that facility to use.
“Once all the facilities got shut down, there’s not much you can do. I think, whenever it does start, they’ve kind of told us that we’ll have a very abbreviated Spring Training, so we’ll have at least a chance to get back into for — I don’t know what it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be two weeks, three weeks, whatever it ends up being. It will obviously be rushed compared to what we’re used to.”
With an abbreviated ramp up, the biggest concern will, of course, be avoiding injuries.
“People don’t realize that we kind of ramp ourselves up in Spring Training so that you don’t just go right into 100% real major league baseball games, where competition kicks in and you try to do too much without getting your body there first,” Zimmerman said.
“I think most of the guys are probably doing anything they can to stay in shape, so that’s kind of a year-round thing to begin with now, so I think we’re good on that aspect.
“So I think it’s just going to be a matter of are the pitchers going to be ready and as ramped up and be ready to throw 100 pitches when it’s time for a starting pitcher to start?
“Those are the questions that nobody has the answers to, because obviously we’ve had kind of like the strike years stuff where we did this, but this is a completely unique situation, so you just hope that injuries don’t happen, but nowadays people take care of themselves.
“I don’t think the physical fitness will be a question, it will be more just kind of the baseball side of it.”
When they eventually get word that it’s safe to start the process, they’ll do what they can to get ready, and field the best team they can even if it takes some players longer than others.
”I think it’s going to be the readiness of each individual player,” Rizzo said. “I think that each team is going to go in with their best roster, whatever that number is, whatever the number is that is going to be allowed, and I think that you’re going to have to see a situation where there are going to be certain players getting ready as we go along, as the season begins, so I think it’s the teams that are prepared the best, I think it’s the teams that are closest to being ready as the season starts will gain that advantage of coming out of the gates quicker than others.”