Well-traveled Milwaukee Brewers first baseman-outfielder Logan Morrison figures it will be easy for him to adjust to games without spectators this season.
“I played for the Rays and the Marlins, so I’m used to it,” Morrison said.
The Brewers and other major league teams worked out again Monday in mostly empty ballparks, mindful the long-awaited start to the season is barely a week away and fans won’t be coming. So teams are trying as best they can to ramp up the competitiveness of summer camps conducted in isolation.
Several teams announced upcoming exhibition games, including Houston at Kansas City, Kansas City at St. Louis, and Cleveland against Pittsburgh.
The Brewers will play intrasquad games for several nights starting Tuesday and are dubbing them the Blue and Gold World Series, a nod to manager Craig Counsell’s alma mater, Notre Dame. Catcher Omar Narvaez and outfielder Avisail Garcia will draft teams for matchups designed to approximate the intensity of regular-season games.
“It’s important for the players to understand the dial can’t go from one to 10, from camp to opening day,” Counsell said. “That’s an important part of how we’re trying to prepare them.”
Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was going all-out in an intrasquad game at Target Field when he suffered an injury. The oft-injured Buxton was tracking a long fly by Nelson Cruz when he hurt his left leg, and he had to be carted off the field.
Meanwhile, the virus continued to complicate preparations. St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks opted out of playing this season, citing underlying health concerns. He was diagnosed in high school with Type 1 diabetes.
Manager David Ross and five other undisclosed tier one individuals sat out a Chicago Cubs workout as a precaution while awaiting virus test results. Tier one includes players, coaches, physicians and others.
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras complimented the protective measures being taken by the team and MLB.
“I don’t think that I’m at risk inside the ballpark,” Contreras said. “Walking the streets, that’s the one place that I don’t feel safe.”
In Miami, perhaps the pandemic’s epicenter, the Marlins hope their players can minimize the risk away from the ballpark by wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
“We’ve made it really clear to our guys how important it is, not only for themselves but the organization, their teammates, their teammates’ families,” manager Don Mattingly said. “For me, every individual in the South Florida area should have the same mindset. It’s a serious situation. We’re taking it seriously.”
The Washington Nationals placed pitchers Wander Suero and Roenis Elias on the injured list. No reasons were given.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out nine in four innings in an intrasquad game.