Bubble-free life means MLB players, coaches must be careful

Bubble-free life means MLB players, coaches must be careful

Bubble-free life means MLB players, coaches must be careful

PHOENIX — Baseball’s bubble-free environment is an anomaly as the sports world tries to come back amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of bringing a group of teams to Disney World (like the NBA and MLS) or concentrating on a few hub cities (like the current NHL plan), Major League Baseball has 30 teams spread all over the United States and potentially Canada, with players, coaches and team personnel trying to stay healthy while cases are still spreading.

Needless to say, it won’t be easy.

Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said he’ll be constantly reminding everyone in his organization about the delicacy of the current situation. It’s especially important in Phoenix, where COVID-19 cases have increased substantially over the past few weeks.

“High-risk behaviour is going to impact you and the person standing next to you and the person standing next to them,” Hazen said. “We’re going to be extremely mindful of it. The protocols are going to answer some of those things for us, but away from the field, I believe we are going to have to make sure everyone understands exactly what we mean by high-risk behaviour.

“Things are going to have to change temporarily in our lives to be able to do this.”

That means altering the way baseball players behave on and off the field.

The on-field portion is largely addressed in a hefty manual that covers everything from hotels to showers to spitting. It will be awkward and sometimes not particularly practical, but teams are vowing to do their best.

“You’re putting a lot of people in a small, confined space, which is the one thing the medical experts are telling us not to do,” Oakland A’s GM David Forst said. “So we’ll have to limit clubhouse time as much as possible, guys will have to wear masks as much as possible.”

Then there’s the considerable amount of time players will spend away from the field.

Texas coach Chris Woodward said health issues will be critical throughout the season and the usual carefree life of a ballplayer will be a bit more tame. While health is obviously the most important issue, there’s also the on-field realization that losing players for several days to COVID-19 might also be the difference between wins and losses.

“The younger guys that are single that, you know, tend to be a little bit more social,” Woodward said. “Those are going to be the challenging ones because they’re not going to want to sit in your hotel room on road trips. But I think it’s their responsibility that they have to the ballclub and the organization and their teammates, honestly.”

Added Minnesota Twins closer Taylor Rogers: “A lot of it’s going to be on you, on the honour system. Don’t be the one person that’s going to mess it up for everybody else. When you want to go do something, or something like that, you need to remember it’s about your team, not just yourself.”

The first step toward a successful season is getting all the players to their home cities. Most shouldn’t have much of a problem but there are plenty of logistics involved with domestic and international travel. Some players might face significant hurdles: For instance, Arizona pitcher Bo Takahashi is coming back to the U.S. from Brazil, which is another coronavirus hotspot.

Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn said his team’s travel department has a busy week ahead, but that they’ve been planning on this scenario for quite a while. The challenges are real but so is the payoff. For MLB, a strange 60-game season is a better alternative than no season at all.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge,” Hahn said. “It’s not impossible.”

___

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Stephen Hawkins, Dave Skretta, Dave Campbell and Andrew Seligman contributed to this story.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

David Brandt, The Associated Press

Baseball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

A child writes in their school notebook during a home schooling session in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of students in Calgary will shift to online learning as of today in a bid to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Online classes begin for some Alberta students amid rising COVID-19 cases

Alberta currently has the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read