So we’re gonna have a season, maybe, hopefully…..who knows. But we need to be prepping like there’s going to be one. So let’s take a look at some of the specifics that have come down from MLB with the new plan for the season and how it should effect how you handle injuries/Covid related issues going into the year.
First off, the rules. MLB released a list of precautions when they and the players’ union approved the deal for the 60 game season. Testing is the biggest thing we need to keep an eye on. Everyone’s getting tested for active Covid-19 as well as antibodies upon reporting to Spring Training 2.0. They will not be cleared for work until they tests negative for Covid (we’ll come back to this). In season, players will undergo multiple “symptom tests” per day (temp checks and “how are you feeling” questionnaires). They will also be tested every other day.
So what happens if someone tests positive? Well, each team has to put in place their own Covid handling program that meets certain minimum requirements. The biggest thing though is that, in order to be cleared to play, a player must test negative twice within a 24 hour period and show now symptoms for 72 hours. This is a big deal. There’s no real rhyme or reason for how long Covid stays in your system, but even asymptomatic cases seem to last a minimum of 14 days. I looked into some prominent cases that took place over in Europe when Covid hit some of their soccer leagues: Callum Hudson-Odoi, a winger for Chelsea tested positive for Coronavirus at the beginning of March. He wasn’t able to test negative until the beginning of May, despite showing few symptoms. Paolo Dybala, who plays for Juventus, tested positive in mid-March and was asymptomatic. He wasn’t cleared until almost the end of May. Suffice to say, it’s going to be case by case when it comes to each one of these testing scenarios, but I think it would be wise to treat a positive test like a month long or more injury when trying to evaluate how to handle your roster.
One question that folks had was around quarantining. What if a player leaves the team or is otherwise exposed to the public or a person who tests positive, do they need to quarantine for a certain period of time? No. So guys like Mike Trout, Zach Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, and others who are expected to miss time for paternity leave will only need to test negative upon returning. They won’t need to quarantine for any extended time.
Lastly, on the Covid front, opt outs. We’re already starting to have players opt out of the season. So far we know of four. Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross, Mike Leake, and Ian Desmond. Zimm and Ross were waiver wire fodder, Leake was probably only worthy of a pickup in two start weeks, but Desmond’s case is interesting, more for what it does for other guys on the Rockies. Now, the Rockies did just sign Matt Kemp to a minor league deal to see if he can stick, but Desmond being out of the lineup picture immediately boosts guys like Garrett Hampson, Raimel Tapia, Sam Hilliard, and Brendan Rodgers. Between Desmond being gone, and the DH coming into the NL all four of those guys should see big time at-bats. I’m sure we’ll get more opt-outs as we go into camps, so we’ll keep you updated.
We’re still light on news and updates, but there are a few trickling out from camps:
Brian Cashman said today that Giancarlo Stanton was still working to recover from a calf injury that he suffered in February. He mentioned Stanton “should” be good to go to start the season at DH but might not be ready to play the outfield. This is nottttt greatttttt. The Yankees just can’t get out of their own way on this stuff. Aaron Judge is still a question mark (despite hitting off a tee lately) and now Stanton, who everyone assumed was fine, might not be healthy enough to play the outfield opening day? I wouldn’t worry about it too much right now, but it’s an issue to watch in camp.
Alex Verdugo was given the all clear by Ron Roenicke the other day. He said he was “a lot further along” then some of the other rehabbing people on his squad which is definitely a good sign.
Jed Lowrie was added to the Mets 60 man roster, which was somewhat surprising. He’s still working back to be able to handle baseball activities after knee and calf injuries. He’s still in a brace now, and probably a long shot to make any immediate impact this season.
Cole Hamels also has the all clear for the beginning of training camp. The team said they’d “proceed cautiously” with Hamels, probably only allowing him to throw 3-4 innings at a time to start out. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Braves run out a 6 man rotation to start the season.
I’m expecting a lot of news to start coming out, from positive tests, to more opt outs, and more color on rehab/camp injuries. We’ll be sure to keep things up to date for you as the season gets lifted off.