The Giants finally had a day off on the spring schedule Thursday. It turned into a much longer break than players were expecting.
Major League Baseball suspended the rest of spring training and has announced that the start of the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks because of coronavirus. Given how fast this is moving -- the governor of Illinois announced later in the day that there would be no fans at Chicago stadiums until May -- there's a strong likelihood that Thursday's announcement from the league was just the beginning.
It was a blow for players who aren't quite sure yet what the next two weeks will look like, or when they will be able to begin playing again. The Giants have spent a month ramping up to Opening Day and now will be put on ice, but they understand that this was necessary.
"While we were looking forward to the start of the season, the health and safety of everybody is the main priority right now," Brandon Crawford said in a text message. "I think all parties involved are constantly gathering new information, but obviously this is something bigger than sports, and if it means delaying the start of our season to look out for the health of the population, then so be it."
The players were briefed by team doctors last Friday, but up until that point COVID-19 was not a particularly hot topic in the clubhouse. Players were not told to stop signing autographs, just encouraged to be careful, and some continued to sign that afternoon during a game against the Brewers. A week later, everything has changed, and there's curiosity about where this is all headed and what the next steps are.
Can @spidadmitchell or @rudygobert27 speak on what if any symptoms they have had or are currently experiencing? Are you guys bedridden? I’m seriously curious as to the severity. Thank you from the whole sports community! 🙏🏼— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) March 12, 2020
The Giants have not announced an official plan for the next two weeks, but players were under the impression that they would continue to work out at Scottsdale Stadium. Many live in the area anyway, and all had planned to be in Scottsdale through the third week of March. There was a consensus that Thursday's step was the right one.
"I think it's very smart of us to take these measures as of now," Mike Yastrzemski told NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez. "With all the unknowns right now it's important for us to keep ourselves, our families and the fans safe and healthy."
The staff was meeting Thursday to decide on a plan for the players. Pitchers will need to be kept on track, especially starters who had just begun to approach a normal regular season workload. Hitters will have to keep their timing, knowing that games could pick up again with short notice. The first step, though, was making sure everyone was safe and sound, and the league and teams tried to do that Thursday.
[RELATED: Kapler agree's with MLB's decision]
"I don't think MLB has a choice," third base coach Ron Wotus told Gutierrez. "The safety of all citizens, our families and loved ones is the priority right now. Hopefully taking prudent and effective measure now will enhance our chances of getting our country and baseball back to normal sooner."