General manager David Forst said no A’s player has opted out of the upcoming 2020 baseball season. He doesn’t, at this stage, expect someone to do so as a handful have across Major League Baseball over off-field concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He also said the A’s are full healthy entering Saturday’s start of a three-week summer training camp.
While MLB announced results of COVID-19 testing on Friday, the A’s initial wave of testing remains incomplete.
Forst hopes that doesn’t lead to counting bodies to see if the A’s have positive COVID-19 tests in their player pool scheduled to train at Oakland Coliseum.
“That’s the tricky part,” Forst said Friday in a conference call. “There has been a lot written about disclosure and the policy that MLB announced a few days ago. The policy aside, I’m very sensitive to people’s individual medical information. This is a difficult thing that we’re doing. It’s a difficult thing we’re asking the players to do. I don’t want to make it any more difficult by making them think that personal things will be exposed. ... We’re all trying to do this together, and it’s incredibly difficult. It’s hard to overstate the amount of work that has gone into this.”
Forst isn’t kidding about that last part. They have built a testing facility in the Oakland Coliseum’s parking lot F. They also have moved the weight room into a large tent in that same lot, which connects to the player’s entrance for Oakland Coliseum and Oakland Arena.
The A’s have set up two locker rooms -- their clubhouse and the former Raiders locker room -- to enhance social distancing. The visiting clubhouse currently is being used as a bigger dining area.
The team will conduct staggered workouts, with no player around in their locker room more than 45 minutes before their scheduled stretch time.
It’s going to be a regimented experience that gets going with pitchers and catchers reporting on Saturday with the full squad after that. Things will be different, including routines players thrive upon, as teams try to prepare for the season and keep people healthy.
“It is worth trying,” Forst said. “I’m looking forward to getting feedback from the players as they get in the clubhouse tomorrow and we’re going to do everything we can to make them comfortable. This won’t work if they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel like they can do their job.”
Those establishing and enforcing protocols must do their job. The players must adhere to new rules to make all this work. Forst believes they will, especially after a conversation with shortstop Marcus Semien.
“I was very impressed with his desire to impart the seriousness on his teammates and have conversations before we arrive and after we arrive with everybody to make sure everyone knows what’s at stake,” Forst said. “What he said that I appreciated the most was that he understands that it’s not just the players being exposed, it’s the staff and coaches, the manger, the trainers and the clubhouse staff. Everybody is in this together. That was something that Marcus relayed to me unsolicited and I really appreciated that, and I trust that he’ll lead those conversations with teammates and that we’ll have other guys step up and do the same thing.”