Trea Turner worked out in a full head and neck mask on Tuesday, when the Nationals held their Spring Training 2.0 workouts in the nation’s capital.
Is that the style, using the sort of a mask he’d previously used in cold weather games, what he’s going to go with if/when they actually start playing baseball games this summer, in an ongoing pandemic?
“Just messing around with that,” Turner explained when he spoke with reporters on a Zoom call following the workouts in Nationals Park.
“I hadn’t thought about it until today. For me, I try to save my masks, not get them so dirty.”
“And you know, I think this is a mask,” Turner said, referring to the one he wore for the call, “I wear to and from the field when I’m showered and clean and whatnot, and so when I’m out there sweating I just figured I’d try out the old mask, I guess. It’s definitely hot out there, but if we’re being safe, and if it helps at all, then maybe I’ll continue to do it, but yeah, kind of a test-run I guess and just to see what it was like. I don’t think I’ll play with it on, but as far as practice goes, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”
“I think it’s a little easier to breathe in than these masks,” he said of the difference between the full head covering, and the more commonly-used mask he wore in the presser.
“But it’s definitely hotter. When you’ve got it covering your ears and your hair and whatnot, you’re definitely sweating pretty good.
“So, it’s hot, but it’s 97, 95 degrees out anyway, so you’re going to be sweating. It is what it is. Just trying out to see what happens.”
It’s just one of many things Turner and his teammates will have to get used to as they adjust to the new normal in Major League Baseball.
“Players are creatures of habit and routine,” GM Mike Rizzo said in a separate Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday, when he was asked about all the adjustments players are being asked to make under the testing and safety protocols in Nationals Park.
“I think the more comfortable they get with the protocols and procedures, I think the more comfortable they will be to concentrate on baseball.
“So, our job is to make the [coronavirus] procedures and protocols as simple and as streamlined as possible. And I think that once we have the trust of the players that the process is working, I think that they will be able to kind of — their routine will go from, ‘Okay, we’re going to have to test, then we’re going to get in our uniform, we’re going to play baseball,’ then it will become a routine for them.
“We’ve got to formulate that bond and that trust that this process and the protocols are working and that they’re comfortable coming to the ballpark every day.”
Turner’s take on players being creatures of habit and eventually adjusting to the new normal in baseball?
“I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever be comfortable,” Turner said. “But we’ve talked about it that’s it’s going to be different. We talked about it for the last 2-3 months in our group chat at home, and we communicated pretty well player-wise in the sense that when we come back it’s going to be different, there are going to be things we don’t like, and there’s going to be bumps along the way, but as long as we’re being safe and our health is being taken care of, our families are being taken care of, then we can figure out the baseball stuff.
“It’s only Day 3 or 4, definitely still getting used to everything, but I think even in the first few days I’ve learned to do some things.
“We’re on a little bit tighter schedule so we can make sure that we don’t run into each other, so we can’t just be in the weight room as long as we want to, be in the cage as long as we want to, and we’ve just got to learn to deal with that, but as long as our health and safety is taken care of, then I think we can figure out the baseball stuff eventually.”
It could, Turner acknowledged, also lead to changing some habits, which are now verboten under MLB’s rules for pandemic baseball.
“I’ve caught myself a couple times where I wanted to spit, but I’m definitely going to miss the [sunflower] seeds,” Turner said.
“I’m a big seed guy on the bench, especially in-between innings and whatnot, so, wearing the mask now may help kick that habit and maybe I don’t crave that when I’m on the bench during the game and whatnot, but like you said, we’re going to be getting used to different things, and I’ve definitely caught myself trying to change some habits for sure.”
“You’ve got a lot of guys who have had this habit for a lot of years,” Davey Martinez said of those who are seed guys like Turner on Saturday.
“The chewing of seeds, a lot of guys put seeds in their mouths to kind of calm their nerves down a little bit.
“Now all of a sudden you can’t have any seeds in your mouth, that’s going to be tough for some guys, when they’re so used to it. Or chewing gum and not being able to — as we all know — spit. It’s going to be tough. The licking of the fingers. It will be tough for some guys, it will be an adjustment.”
The biggest (non-health-related) adjustment everyone will have to make is playing just 60 games instead of the usual 162. Turner said it’s definitely going to be different.
“It’s going to be wild,” he said. “Almost playoff baseball from the start. I always believe that until you’re playing an elimination game you’ve got some time, like I said last year, especially when we were down in the [NLDS] to LA, or I guess tied with LA, and then also down against the [Houston] Astros [in the World Series], but every game means a little bit more. You’re kind of in that second-half of the season already,
“It’s going to be weird, it’s going to be different. But I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be exciting for us, and hopefully it will be exciting for fans to watch and you guys to watch as well.
“That’s why we want to take care of our business off the field and in the clubhouse so we can get out there and play those games, because I think they’re going to be enjoyable.”