Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring Training has been suspended and Opening Day will be pushed back at least two weeks, though that remains subject to change.
On Friday, MLB and the MLBPA informed teams that players have three options during the shutdown: stay at their team's spring training facility, return to their offseason homes, or return to their team's home city. At least one team -- the New York Yankees -- has voted unanimously to remain at the team's spring training complex.
Here is what Yankees union representative Zack Britton told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, about the team's decision:
"We have a shot at a World Series title," Britton told MLB.com. "We want to be prepared to seize that opportunity. Guys aren't panicking about this thing. We understand that it's serious, but the Yankees have a ton of resources in the area. We feel like this is a good place for us to be."
Manager Aaron Boone and his coaching staff will remain at the spring training complex to work with players. Hoch says owner Hal Steinbrenner promised Yankees players would have access to all training facilities during the shutdown. MLB's shutdown requires only some workout facilities, mostly indoor areas, remain open to players.
Several Yankees were spotted taking ground balls Saturday morning:
A few players (including DJ LeMahieu as far as we could identify) were taking ground balls this morning. No media access at Steinbrenner Field. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/n83y5Cg83P— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) March 14, 2020
"We were able to do defensive work, infield work. Guys hit indoors, pitchers played catch. We'll continue to do that," bench coach Carlos Mendoza told reporters, including Dan Martin of the New York Post, following Saturday's workout. "We're gonna support (the players) and obviously that's our job. We'll see where this situation will take us because every day it looks like it changes so who knows what's going to happen? But as of right now we're here for them."
Martin says outfielder Clint Frazier and infielders DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela were among the Yankees spotted at the complex on Saturday. Luis Severino, who had Tommy John surgery last month and is early in his rehab work, was there as well. Players did some defensive work on the field and also hit and threw inside, according to Martin.
Agent Scott Boras said players would be best served remaining at their spring training camps during the outbreak because they are in "one of the best isolation situations." Roughly 60 major leaguers are Boras clients, including Britton and new Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, though the Yankees made their decision to remain in camp through a team vote.
"This is going to be something that changes on a daily basis and hopefully becomes more clear as we move along," Boone told reporters. "For right now, they'll be able to work in the cage, the weight room, the training staff providing service they need ... We'll be here to support that. Each and every day is going to be a little bit different as more and more information rolls in."
Individual players started to return home Friday and more figure to do the same this weekend. It should be noted many players already have their families with them at spring training. With many players opting to return home, MLB will presumably launch a second, possibly abbreviated, spring training before the regular season can begin.