If MLB really wants to open the season next month in Arizona, Chris Sale expects that players will do their part to make it happen. One line that will be hard to cross, however, is spending four or five months without their families.
Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday to address his recent Tommy John surgery, Sale weighed in on the possibility of players leaving everything and everyone behind to sequester in the desert
"That's going to be a case by case issue," he said. "To answer your question, I think it's going to be tough. I don't know if I could look at my kids just through a screen for four or five months. The same things goes for my wife, not being able to be around her, that's a long time. But people have done it in harsh scenarios, I guess."
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Under one proposal, players would relocate to Arizona next month and the season would be played in spring training ballparks, as well as other sites around Phoenix. In order to minimize risk of infection, however, players would live in isolation, traveling only between hotels and ballparks.
"I think there's a lot of figuring out to do," Sale said. "I think there's a right way to do this, and I'm confident that Major League Baseball, the Players' Association, all the owners, all the teams and players, I think that we're going to be able to find a way to come together and iron this stuff out, and figure out a way that's safe and is going to please the masses. Whatever that is, I don't know."
Games would be played without fans, an experience Sale remembers from 2015, when Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray forced the White Sox and Orioles to play in an empty Camden Yards.
"That was actually a really weird experience," Sale said. "It was definitely different. The game was much faster, I can tell you that, but it was a weird feeling having nobody in the stands. But hey — sometimes you've got to adapt. Sometimes you've got to do some things for the greater good of what's going on around you. That's the situation we were in. Is it ideal? I would say no. But at the same time, you have to be sensitive to your surroundings and what's going on. At the time, that's what it took with the safety of not only the players and the staff, coaches, umpires, everybody at the stadium, but people coming into the stadium as well. It just made the most sense moving forward playing the game.
"If that's what it takes, we've got to do it. Sports by no means is on as important a level as what's going on right now. We're in a pandemic. This is worldwide. It's taken 12 or 13 thousand people's lives. That's almost half the capacity in Fenway Park. That's wild. I think people have an outlet with sports. That's a way for them to escape reality sometimes. They just kind of decompress. I would love to be able to get back to that."
Sale hopes baseball can help provide the housebound with an escape.
"I think the sooner we can get back on the field and bring a little bit of levity to what's going on for people around the world, obviously in a safe way — we've got to dot all the I's and cross all the t's, we don't want to step on any boundaries, cross any lines — there's a right way to do this," he said. "We've definitely got to figure that out. But I think the sooner we get back out there across all major sports, the better off we're going to be."