Athletes are creatures of habit, as are those who work to make athletes better such as coaches and trainers. With the coronavirus pandemic stopping the sports world, those schedules and routines have gone completely out of whack.
MLB Opening Day was scheduled for last Thursday, yet the Giants haven't taken the field since March 11 in a 6-4 spring training win over the Texas Rangers. The spring is a time of shaking off the rust for veterans, proving yourself for on-the-bubble players and a key time of development for prospects and younger players. This also is a key time for people like Matt Daniels, the Giants' coordinator of pitching sciences.
While the sudden sports stoppage changes everything for players, the same can be said for Daniels, who specializes in player development. He wants to make one thing clear: This hiatus is completely different than dealing with an offseason.
"The playing and not playing part are literally the only similarities between the coronavirus halt and the offseason," Daniels said on Trevor Bauer's YouTube page. "Realistically, they're totally different."
Daniels further explained the differences by looking at a typical schedule for those in his field, beginning with the start of the year.
"As someone in player development, usually in January you're starting to get ready for spring training so you're workload picks up a little bit," Daniels said. "In February, you might bring in some of your starting pitchers in to some sort of minicamp to get volume and intensity going before games start. And you might bring your relievers in once full spring training hits."
In spring, Daniels and the rest of the staff are at the field between 10 to 12 hours per day. The same can be said for coaches during the regular season, but for rovers and coordinators like Daniels, the regular season means constantly being on the road and going to the field for different minor league affiliates.
From mid-February through the end of August, it's go, go, go. The workload gradually ramps up and then starts slowing down through September.
"At least towards the end of the minor league season, you're able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so you're able to start slowing things down," Daniels said.
Not anymore. Everything came to a crashing halt due to the coronavirus. Spring training was canceled, and there still is no set date for Opening Day.
"What happened here, for the coronavirus stuff, was totally different," Daniels said. "You're at this peak workload and then all of a sudden it just stops. It's a total cliff. And that is really confusing, because you go from having certain tasks you're supposed to have every day to just nothing."
MLB and the MLB Players' Association came to an agreement on an array of topics Friday morning. But there still are so many questions that must be answered.
When will the season begin? How many games will be played? Will there be fans at games? Where will the games be played? Will there a shortened spring training before the season starts?
These are all questions that players and fans are both wondering. The same can be said for those trying to turn players into their best selves like Daniels is doing for San Francisco.