Having a blueprint is paramount to any project, but like anything else MLB’s plan to complete a 60-game schedule and dive into a postseason has colossal hurdles.
“That is the intent and we are about to find out,’’ Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday on a conference call when asked about executing the plan. “It’s a very extensive document, all designed to put us in the best position to find success and have success. Like America and the rest of the world, the effort is to get back to something as close to where you had been prior as soon as you possibly can. And do so with safety and limitations and we are going to try that. I can’t predict how it is going to play out but we look forward to trying.’’
The early steps to get ready for a July 23 Opening Day game against the defending World Series champion Nationals in Washington have been testing players and staff for the coronavirus at Yankee Stadium this week. Cashman said the earliest the Yankees would hold the first full workout would be Friday and the latest on Saturday.
There could be a small group working out Friday and that possibly could include pitchers Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino who have been throwing bullpen sessions at Yankee Stadium for a few weeks.
“I do not expect all our players to be here because some of them have more challenges than others in terms of where they are coming from,’’ Cashman said. “Departures from certain countries are more easy than others. So people’s arrivals are staggered and their intake testing staggered and that doesn’t even involved anybody that obviously might become COVID. In terms of a full complement of a roster it is to be determined.’’
Cashman, who can’t identify players who have or will test positive for COVID-19 per MLB rules, said people in the organization have tested positive. The Post reported on June 20 four members of the organization tested positive in Tampa. If a player isn’t available, Cashman said, “We might not be able to say why. That’s my understanding as of right now. It’s an emerging situation.’’
Cashman has been busy constructing a 58-man roster, getting the Stadium ready for full-scale workouts despite logistically it would have been better to hold spring training 2.0 in Tampa where they would have had use of Steinbrenner Field and the nearby minor league complex. However, a spike in positive tests on Florida’s West Coast forced the move to The Bronx where workouts could include pitchers throwing in the Great Hall.
Cashman has also been talking to other clubs about the possibility of playing three exhibition games toward the end of spring training 2.0 (likely against the Mets) and other chores in MLB’s altered world.
However, none tops dealing with whatever COVID-19 delivers.
“The toughest challenges? I think obviously how we are going to handle the pandemic, COVID environment we are operating in,’’ Cashman said. “Been accustomed over course of time to dealing with injuries as they manifest themselves, but if we have a game tomorrow and your starter shows up and he has a temperature and all of a sudden has symptoms out of the blue right before the start and how do you adjust along the way. And then the connectivity to that and obviously the roster you have to deal with.’’
As for paying big-league employees and minor league players, the Yankees are continuing their month-to-month assessment. As of Tuesday no big-league staffers had their salaries reduced or were furloughed and the team continued to pay the minor leaguers a stipend.
According to Cashman, none of the Yankee players or coaches have informed the club they won’t participate in spring training 2.0 or the regular season.
“No,’’ Cashman said when asked if players or coaches told the Yankees they would sit out. “That doesn’t mean it is not possible. If that changes we will adjust the roster.’’