Classic rock and yard work. This is what normal home owners do on the weekend right?
— Brandon Bishoff (@TieGoes2Runner) March 15, 2020
For baseball players (as well as scouts, like Bishoff, who covers Florida for the Blue Jays), there is a rhythm to the calendar year. From late February to September or October, their day-to-day routines revolve around the daily baseball schedule. After the season, there are usually a few weeks of rest and recovery, then training starts to ramp up again sometime in December. By the New Year, players are in full preparation mode, and as spring training rolls around, it’s time to build up the body to withstand the rigours of another long season.
With the suspension of the baseball season by the Covid-19 virus, of course, that rhythm has been disrupted. Minor League players had only been in camp for a little over a week, and were prepping for exhibition games that would’ve started today when MLB decided to put a halt to things. Now, of course, they face some uncertainty while the western world tries to flatten the curve and wait out this pandemic.
The Blue Jays minor league players we spoke with have all returned home, with a goal of continuing to train and be ready to go when baseball returns. For those who didn’t sign large bonuses when they were drafted, there’s a concern about finances: MiLBers haven’t been paid since the end of August, and don’t get paid until the season begins. Hopefully, MLB will come to their senses about this, but there’s financial insecurity for many minor league players at the moment.
Jordan Groshans was on the verge of a huge breakout year when foot issues shut him down last May. He was less than a year out of high school when we had eyes on Groshans at Lansing last April, but he showed strike zone judgement and an ability to use the whole field beyond his years. The Magnolia, TX resident has returned home to train and be with his family, and says he is 100% healthy. “I still have big plans for this year no matter what happens,” he added.
Josh Winckowski pitched at two levels last year, finishing the hurricane-shortened Florida State League with a co-championship. Along the way, the fourth year pro started to gain some prospect recognition with a mid-90s FB and an ability to generate a lot of GB outs. Winckowski was pumped that he sat 93-96 in his first bullpen session, and was looking forward to dialling his velo up even further. Like Groshans, the Estero, FL native has returned home, and admits it’s an unusual situation:
I think we can all agree it’s a weird time right now, we all love ball and especially to be so close and then have it stop. I just got home yesterday and haven’t figured out what I’ll be doing to stay in shape. Luckily I think a lot of guys are home so I’ll be contacting those guys to throw etc.
Ohio native Joey Murray had a breakout season in 2019, just his second in pro ball. The 2018 8th rounder’s ascension was overshadowed by that of Nate Pearson, but no Blue Jays MiLB starter had a better season. Murray began the year in Lansing, and finished ii in New Hampshire, his “invisiball” confounding hitters along the way. He left Florida and returned home on Saturday, and will continue to train at his off season facility, and says he will, “…basically treat it as if spring training hasn’t started yet.”
Like all of the other players, Murray is disappointed the season has been suspended, but agrees with the decision, and sees a bigger picture:
It really sucks that things are postponed but I definitely think it’s the right decision. Just have to do my part and try to be responsible with who I am around.
Southpaw starter Zach Logue has quietly worked his way up the minor league ladder, pitching at AA New Hampshire (with a fill-in start in Buffalo). The Cincinnati native is back in the Ohio city, and while he, too, admits it’s a strange situation, he feels baseball made the right call. His plans for the time being include resuming his weight training, and maybe looking to supplement his income:
I think my plan is to basically go back into off-season mode with my lifting schedule. And as for throwing I’ll just try to maintain what I’ve built up so far so I can be ready whenever the time comes. I’ll probably try to make a little money too since we aren’t sure if we will get paid or not.
For now, scouts like Bishoff can catch up on their paperwork, as well as their yardwork. With a variety of platforms available, amateur scouts can take more detailed online looks at players they’ve seen numerous in times in person, as well as some they may not have seen a lot of. For the players, at least for the time being, it’s hurry up and wait.