Tropicana Field Opens Monday For Limited Workouts
On Monday, the Rays will open Tropicana Field to players and coaches for voluntary, limited workouts. It is expected that 15-20 players will take advantage.
Players will be able to play catch, run and do light weight work,
all on the field. For now, the clubhouse, weight room, training room and batting cage will be closed.
Workouts will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and will be the clubs first workout since March 17th when approxiamtely a dozen players worked out in Port Charlotte. The Rays last spring training game was March 12th against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kevin Cash and the coaching staff are excited to see the players. Cash is also confident that the team will have plenty of time to get the guys in shape. “Certainly there is going to be a priority put on pitchers because they generally take a longer period of time to get up and going and built up – all those things.”
In a Zoom conference call with the media, hitting coach Chad Mottola spoke of the human side of getting back to baseball. “They’ve been pent up so long, you got Willy (Adames) and Margot (Manuel Margot) living together and staring at each other. This way they get to see a couple new faces – even passing each other in the parking lot – Jose Martinez moved to the area.” He said. “It’s more kind of to have a human touch of O.K. I finally have a different scene to finally train. It’s one of those things that there all self driven pretty hard but at the same time we are human we need a little different scenery to get some blood flow so just standing on the trop tuf will make you work a little harder. It’s not for mechanics it’s to get some fresh blood.”
In the same Zoom meeting, pitching coach Kyle Snyder piggy backed on Mottola’s comments. “The physical interaction, the dialogue, being able to put your eyes on some of these guys even though there have been certain instances in which we’ve remoted in and in this environment where we’ve been forced to think a little differently and use technology to our advantage.” He said. “It’s certainly going to make a pretty significant difference I think considering the human side of it. And I think a lot of these guys are eager to see one another physically, play some catch, get back on the trop field and feel like we’re taking some steps forward.”
On Monday, there will be the sights and sounds of baseball. Behind the scenes the owners will be finishing off another “return to play” proposal to the MLB Players association.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote in his column on ESPN.com “Finally the ugliness is starting to abate. Because strife and discord are foundational elements of the relationship between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, the possibility of them reappearing out of nowhere, like autoimmune diseases intent on wrecking a baseball season, remains palpable. And yet in recent days, the parties have come to the place they were always bound to wind up: ready to actually discuss what a 2020 season will look like.”
Passan suggests that trust between the two sides is paramount to getting a deal done. He notes that trust has eroded between the two sides and therefore transparency and simplicity are the keys to forging a renewed trust between the two sides.
It has been my contention that MLB and the MLBPA will reach an accord to play the 2020 season in some fashion. There is too much at risk not to play. I’m not just talking about the dollars lost on both sides, which would be enormous. I’m talking about the future of the sport.
Baseball was once the National Pastime and was a sure sign that the county was back to normal. This held true after WWI and WWII as well as after 9/11. Baseball, while not the top dog that it was in prior eras. still holds a large part of the nations reverance.
Make no mistake about it, the failure to reach agreement on playing in 2020 will not be seen as a health and safety issue by the majority of fans. Fans may not voice there disdain in a public way due to the position being viewed as insensitive because of the pandemic, but when it comes to renewing their season tickets that will be where their voices will be heard loud and strong.
Hopefully, Monday is the beginning not only of Rays’ players returning to the turf at Tropicana Field but of MLB and the MLBPA seriously removing all obstacles that stand in the way of giving the American public what it wants, baseball.