On the Cubs’ final off-day of the regular season, first baseman Anthony Rizzo had one big item on the agenda.
“My down time was packing up and getting ready for this bubble,” Rizzo said.
Left-fielder Kyle Schwarber described checking off the essentials with his wife as they prepared for an indefinite stay in a hotel.
“‘Don’t forget the dog food,’ and things like that,” Schwarber said.
As of Monday, the Cubs had essentially begun their pre-playoff quarantine, their timeline moved up due to a road trip before the National League’s Wednesday deadline. The transition period is designed to limit the risk of players and staff members contracting COVID-19 before heading into the postseason “bubbles,” starting with the division series.
“Everybody had to be out of their place by tonight,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “Trying to pack up your life and get everything in order … . This has definitely been a different week than I’ve ever been a part of.”
Major League Baseball announced its plans for a postseason bubble last week, with National League teams playing at neutral sites in Texas and the American League in California, up until the World Series in Arlington.
“There’s going to be a lot of challenges,” Cubs MLBPA representative Ian Happ said then, “with the life challenges of packing up your apartment in a week because you didn’t know exactly what this was going to look like, and guys moving out and extending leases. … There’s a lot of real-world challenges that come along with an expedited process like this.”
When the Cubs return from Pittsburgh, they’ll be staying in a Chicago hotel for the series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field this weekend and through the first round of the playoffs, assuming they clinch a top four seed and hosting privileges.
Then, if the Cubs win that best-of-three series, they head to Texas for the NLDS. The agreement between MLB and its players association allows families that quarantined with the team during the transition period to enter the bubble, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported.
It becomes more complicated to add family members to the bubble in later stages, according to Ross, with a separate quarantine involved.
“There was a lot of discussion back and forth,” Happ said. “Obviously, families was a big one -- making sure guys were comfortable with that situation and how their families were going to be accommodated, taken care of. You never want to leave people behind.”
Teams that make it to the World Series could be living in hotel rooms for over a month.
“Players have gone through a lot over the course of this summer,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said, “and this is sort of one more thing. Obviously, it’s one of those things, you hope you’re in this quarantine or in this bubble for a long time.
“Of course, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s a worthwhile one.”