MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins closer Taylor Rogers is trying his best to not get into what he calls the “doomsday scenario.”
In this scenario, there is no baseball in 2020 at all, a whole season wiped away as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. In this scenario, baseball returns in March or April. 2021. A year from now.
While Major League Baseball officials must grapple with that possibility, both Rogers and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who participated on a Monday, March 23, conference call with reporters, say they are hopeful that a season will be played, and they are doing their best to stay in shape if that time comes.
“At the end of the day, we cannot dictate if that will happen or not. The virus will tell us if we can make the season or not,” Cruz said. “Definitely we’re pushing as hard as we can to make it happen, and definitely we are optimistic that it will happen, that we’ll have a season. We don’t know how many games it will be.”
Whether a season will go on at all — MLB has suspended it indefinitely at least into May, though it will surely be longer — is the first question. How many games teams would play is one of the next ones.
“Both sides are going to want to get in as many games as possible,” Rogers said. “It’s in both of our best interests to do that — and it’s in the fans’ best interest.”
One possible way to fit in as many games as possible would be for the league to schedule doubleheaders. That brings into question what they will do to ensure player safety and whether rosters would be expanded.
Rogers, the Twins’ interim MLB Players Association team rep, said the PA and the league have passed a lot of ideas back and forth regarding the season and that “every idea has been entertained.” What that could mean, he said, is that they’re still playing the season in October, which brings its own logistical difficulties into play, especially in Minnesota.
“I think we are going to have to look at some stuff because we all know what baseball in Minnesota could look like in November,” Rogers said. “The discussions have (said) maybe be prepared for something like that, but it’s difficult to just talk about things like that because you don’t know if it’s really going to come to fruition or not.”
For now, while in a state of uncertainty, players are doing their best to stay in shape. Cruz, who returned to the Dominican Republic, said he was doing his normal training like he would do during the offseason or spring training, working out in the gym and hitting in the batting cage.
“Thank god I have my own stuff and my own gym,” he said. “I’ve been able to stay in shape and, at the same time, be safe and stay at home.”
Cruz, who participated in a workout live on Instagram on Monday, said he didn’t think it would take “much time” to be ready because players are still working out. Rogers, who is in Colorado and has been throwing with minor leaguer Griffin Jax, said the same goes for relievers. Starting pitchers, he said, would take the longest time to get ready for a season once it’s time to ramp back up again.
If there is a time to ramp back up this year at all.
“We’re all holding out hope that there will be some type of season this year,” Rogers said. “I don’t think anybody wants to get into that doomsday scenario where there is no season. But if that is the case, we just know that it’s for the greater good. We want people to be healthy. This is bigger than baseball, and if we cannot play baseball because of this, that’s just one we’ll have to take because this is more important than baseball.”