Ron Roenicke isn't the average 63-year-old. He spent eight years in the big leagues and if anything has dropped below his playing weight of 180 in retirement. He remains lean and fit.
He also belongs to a high-risk group when it comes to Covid-19, the illness that disproportionately affects older populations. According to the CDC, over 90 percent of Covid deaths in the United States have occurred in people over 55.
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With spring training opening this week at Fenway Park and Roenicke back to work in Boston, the manager was asked in a Zoom call on Monday if he fears for his safety.
"I don't have a lot of concerns for myself," Roenicke said. "Of course I don't want to get this thing, but I think the protocols we've put into place have covered as much as we think we can cover. I think it's always uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable when I was home in California going to the grocery store. Anytime I left the house was uncomfortable. So that's going to be there. But our people I know have put so much into place in trying to protect myself, all the coaches and players, that we feel pretty good coming in."
As baseball prepares to enter the great unknown while gathering hundreds of players from all over the world to prepare for Opening Day in late July, safety protocols like daily heat checks, social distancing, and mask-wearing will become the game's new reality. Players are expected to arrive at Fenway on Wednesday and Thursday for Covid tests in the hopes that everyone will be cleared to begin workouts on Friday.
Roenicke underwent a test of his own on Monday and expects results by Wednesday. He looks forward to addressing his team in person as soon as it is safe to do so.
"I think whenever I'm allowed to talk to the guys as a group, I hope it's not on Zoom, because I really do want to look these guys in the face instead of having to do it through a monitor," he said. "But whenever we can and feel comfortable, probably in an outdoor setting, I'll address the different things that we all know can really hamper what we're trying to accomplish. It's not just worrying about keeping everybody safe and healthy, but we also realize we have a job to do and trying to get in shape and the challenge of trying to do both of those, and it is a challenge."
In the bigger picture, Roenicke trusts that baseball is doing everything it can to keep him safe.
"I'm really not that concerned," he said. "I still don't feel I'm old, I guess. I feel good health-wise. My doctors all say I'm healthy. I feel good that way. Obviously it's a concern, because you don't know how it affects different people. Whether you're 20 years old or whether you're 63 as I am, you still have to be concerned about trying to stay away from it and certainly the people that are older than I am, we're worried about them. . . . Hopefully we can stay as clean as possible. We know it's there. We know players are going to get it. So we'll just go along our business and try to figure out this very difficult schedule."