When Farhan Zaidi went through the hiring process a year and a half ago, he visited with just about every department of the Giants organization, becoming familiar not just with the baseball side, but the business side as well. Zaidi's work over the last week was not limited to figuring out what to do with a couple hundred baseball players.
The Giants have found that every solution comes with a new set of questions. The coronavirus shutdown has moved quickly, and as team executives have scrambled to keep up, they have also taken time to secure their own families. Zaidi, for instance, is the father of a son who turns one this summer.
There has not been a lot of time, then, to contemplate what Major League Baseball might look like when all of this passes. Asked Thursday about the 2020 schedule, Zaidi said he didn't want to dig too deep into questions he was "not equipped or capable of answering."
"I know when we're able to safely play, we have to think of creative ways to get in as many games as possible given all the time we've lost," Zaidi said.
There only is so much planning MLB and the 30 organizations can do right now. It's clear the sport will not resume until May, but quarantines might last much longer than that. This has moved so quickly that the Giants shut down both Scottsdale facilities just a week after they played their last spring training game.
"I think early on, right around the time that games were suspended, there was a notion that this was going to be hopefully a short term thing," Zaidi said. "I think there was a lot of discussion and conversation about keeping players current and in shape where they could ramp up quickly if we had a date. I think that was part of the concern that players had with camps being closed or restricted, is they wanted to make sure they could get ready quickly."
Those players now are spread across the country, asked to lift in their home gyms and play catch in local parks. The Giants encouraged their players to practice social distancing regardless of what the current rules in their hometowns might be.
"We're encouraging players right now to stay at home," Zaidi said. "Even going out to public cages and workout facilities is not something we would recommend to our players right now."
Zaidi did not want to speculate too much on what that will mean once league operations resume, but he made an interesting point, saying players may actually be behind where they were when they reported to camp in mid-February.
Most of the Giants already had gathered in Scottsdale days or weeks before the official reporting date. Veterans like Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria live in the area and use the facilities there as an offseason training home. Logan Webb was one of the prominent young Giants who moved to Arizona so he could work out with teammates and coaches in the winter. Those who do not take part in informal group workouts in Scottsdale tend to do similar things in their hometowns. Shaun Anderson, for instance, works out with a group in Florida that includes San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. Pablo Sandoval trains with a group of MLB and NFL stars every winter.
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Spring training no longer is about getting in shape. Nearly every hitter who reported last month had been taking swings since the start of January. Most pitchers had thrown multiple bullpen sessions before the first one at Scottsdale Stadium. None of that really is possible right now, and it's a situation the Giants and 29 other teams will have to confront at some point in the coming months. They're not necessarily picking up where they left off. They might be starting spring training all over again.
"We're going to have to have a pretty extended ramp-up period, likely starting players at the same point or maybe even behind where they are when they showed up to spring training," Zaidi said. "I do think that's going to have to be worked into the equation. This is really speculation, but hopefully when you're talking about camp and guys getting into shape, we're going to be able to clear hurdles and do that safely before we're talking about games in front of fans.
"There might be a period of time where we could do that naturally and ramp up without losing time that could be scheduled for games. It's really early right now, but I do think players are going to need a good chunk of time to ramp up with how likely we are to be off right now."