Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, pitching coach Wes Johnson and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey held a conference call with assembled media on Thursday roughly around the time the 2020 MLB season was supposed to kick off in Oakland.
Instead, it was largely informational, ranging from what coaches are focusing on to what normal days look like to, thankfully, the fact that nobody in the organization has required any sort of testing for Coronavirus.
Here are the highlights:
It sounds as though Byron Buxton is doing well
Video surfaced of Buxton taking some soft toss from his wife Lindsey at their home in Baxley, Ga. in recent days, and as far as Falvey and Baldelli are concerned, the center fielder is on the right track.
“Buxton left Fort Myers with the intention that we had kind of ‘finished up his rehab’ and made sure he was in a good place,” Falvey said. “He was really close to games as is when we ultimately departed Fort Myers. He finished up, did some more work with our physical therapist down there and as things wound down and it was clear he was moving onto more of his baseball activity, it felt like the best place for him to be was back home with his family, depending on how long this takes. He left Fort Myers and drove back home. But by all accounts, he feels great.”
Baldelli added that he felt Buxton was in a tremendous spot physically and mentally, and that he was on the lineup sheet to get some innings in center field and some plate appearances when Spring Training was disbanded. He also feels the build-up for Buxton once the team starts to ramp up again will be more like that of a normal, fully healthy player outside of the added maintenance he’ll have to do to keep his shoulder healthy.
Nobody in the organization has needed to be tested for COVID-19
Falvey said the team is in a constant state of monitoring via video conferences with people all across the organization, but that to this point nobody has called any of the team doctors to express a desire or need for testing.
The team knows nothing but has to prepare for everything
When the call occurred, there was still not a formal agreement between the players union and the league itself regarding what the beginning of the season might look like — in addition to how service time and player compensation will look if/when the 2020 season gets going.
That came a little later Thursday evening:
But as Baldelli noted, the discussions between him and his staff are extensive — but in a lot of ways abstract.
“Have we talked about many different things? We have,” Baldelli said. “And the number of different scenarios that are out there are endless. At least the way we talk about it from within, we talk about it in a preparation way — from that standpoint. We don’t necessarily speculate on what we think is going to happen. Really nobody knows what’s going to happen and the situation itself will eventually give us all of those answers but have we spent a lot of time on that? Yeah.
“Actually Wes and I, Josh (Ruffin) and Colby (Suggs) and a few of us spent some time this morning talking about some of these things and Derek and I talk about these things a lot and Mike Bell and the rest of the staff. We talk about these things continuously knowing that it’s going to play out in one way, shape or form but none of us really know how that’s going to end up playing out.”
There really isn’t a short way to explain how the team is preparing for anything
Baldelli basically said the team is doing whatever they can to take care of people, organization-wide. He also noted that this downtime that doesn’t typically come really, well, ever allows coaches and the research and development staff to maybe look at some things they wouldn’t normally have time for.
Johnson said he’s watched a ton of video on guys and is constantly checking his schedule to see who is supposed to be throwing on which day, but he’s also catching up on some reading and is constantly on the phone communicating with Rocco, Bob McClure and a handful of the advance scouting staff as well.
But as Rocco, Wes and Derek all emphasized, it’s really about remaining in communication and again, digging into things more deeply than time would allow typically at this time of year.
The Twins are in the process of doing a little roster tightening even without any games or practices going on
“This was really with an idea toward getting to a place where we feel like we’re still above our 26-man roster number, our 40-man,” Falvey said. “We’ll still have a number of NRIs in camp, but we either have to do this sometime now or later around prepping again for whenever we come back together and think about what the group is that’s still competing for the team.”
Evan Drellich of The Athletic also reported earlier on Thursday that once the deal noted by Passan above is ratified, a transaction freeze will take place.
It’s hard to stay positive, but Baldelli says the team is doing a good job of it
“Have our guys all dispersed and most of them returned to their homes?: Baldelli asked. “Yes. Are facilities shut down in some of these places? Of course they are. But are we still finding ways to get done what we need to get done? We are definitely doing that. And our guys have not relented, their motivation is as high as ever. Our guys are following through with their plans even though the plans aren’t exactly what we thought we’d be looking at when we entered this spring.”
It’s disappointing to miss Opening Day on March 26, but Rocco feels like it’ll also build anticipation for whenever the next one comes
“I think it’s important for all of us to remember what Opening Day is and what it symbolizes,” Baldelli said. “It’s a day to think about things optimistically. Every team in baseball thinks about things in that sense, it’s a day of optimism. When you look around, we’re really not experiencing anything related to a normal Opening Day, we’re not around the people we’re normally around. Your team, families come together on Opening Day, fans come together on Opening Day.
“This is different for a lot of people. But we know that, we acknowledge that, and people are going to find ways to really enjoy that next Opening Day whenever it comes. And that’s gonna be a unique experience in and of itself, and there’s a lot of anticipation for it. I know there is on my end, and everyone in our organization’s end, and that’s kind of what we’re waiting for. I don’t know what it’s going to feel like when we finally take the field again, but that’s the feeling we’re all in search of right now.”
The league extended the deadline for non-roster veteran players who have the ability to opt out of their deals
This is true for players like Jhoulys Chacin, who could have opted out if not added to the 40-man roster by a specific day — most likely just before the end of Spring Training. Instead, that has been tabled for now, Falvey said.
“(The Twins) were informed that the deadline for those types of free agents was going to be pushed back, and there was an agreement there even prior to the ultimate agreement between MLB and the player’s association around the restructuring of the date relative to what the new opening day will be,” Falvey said.