MINNEAPOLIS -- The baseball world came to a halt last week when the league announced it was canceling the rest of spring training and delaying the start of the season by at least two weeks.
Major League Baseball is now on an indefinite pause, announcing Monday, March 16, that Opening Day would be pushed back at least into May as the U.S. battles the spread of COVID-19.
One week before the season was supposed to begin, MLB teams are now confronted with the possibility that the entire season could be wiped out, something everybody involved hopes to avoid.
“I think we’re hopeful that at the right time, sports will return. Baseball will return,” team president Dave St. Peter said on a conference call Thursday. “Our job is to be ready for that, assuming that happens.
“But do we know that’s going to happen? No, we don’t. Therefore, we’re planning for all kinds of contingencies that would contemplate it maybe not happening anytime soon.”
Asked if he thought playing in stadiums with no fans could be on the table, St. Peter said the current situation requires sports leagues to “think creatively, to be nimble, and to try to contemplate different paths towards a return to play.”
As of Thursday, no one in the Twins organization had been tested for COVID-19, St. Peter and president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.
The team knows that could change as testing increases around the country and the number of reported positive tests continue to climb.
“The realities of the numbers and the math around this would indicate that we’ll likely deal with something along the way, whether it’s a potential need for a test or one that actually transpires and we find out something specific,” Falvey said. “But as of today, we don’t have anything on that.”
For now, they’re preparing for a season while in limbo. Before they split from Fort Myers, Fla., pitching coach Wes Johnson created a throwing calendar for pitchers but it’s more difficult for position players, Falvey said, because they don’t have access to the same workout spaces they have at Hammond Stadium,
“Guys are certainly looking at that and having to adapt or adjust on a daily basis,” Falvey said. “But right now, I think our focus has been to make sure everyone’s home, consistent check-ins — we check in every day with every one of our players with respect to health.”
While some players have made their way to Minneapolis, most have gone to their offseason homes. A few have stayed in Fort Myers but there have been no organized workouts.
Falvey said a few players around the spring training facility are trying to utilize resources while limiting themselves to one-on-one contact.
Byron Buxton, who was rehabbing his way back from shoulder surgery, is continuing with his program down in Fort Myers, Falvey said. Starter Rich Hill, who had offseason elbow surgery and was not expected to pitch until early June, has returned to his home in Massachusetts and continues to rehab with a physical therapist.
“Guys can do some things at home,” Falvey said, “but the further and further we get into this, there’s no sugar-coating it: We can’t keep up the level of activity we had when we left Fort Myers.”
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that teams will pay minor league players a “lump sum equal to the allowances that would have been paid through April 8,” the scheduled end of spring training. After that, they will come up with “an industry-wide plan” for minor league compensation through the beginning of the coming season.
The Twins have pledged to cover minor league per diems for their players, which for spring training is $400 a week.
The Twins announced a donation of $30,000 to The Sheridan Story on Thursday, teaming up with the nonprofit to help provide a meal for $7,500 kids in Minnesota who are affected as schools remain closed.