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07/02/2020   Seattle PI Mariners

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward was going to address his entire team before the start of MLB's unprecedented summer training camp, just like he did when spring training opened about 4 1/2 months ago. It was on a Zoom call instead of in person this time.

When the New York Mets resume practice, 60-year-old hitting coach Chili Davis will be working with hitters remotely and not initially at Citi Field with players and other staff members. The Seattle Mariners have three assistant coaches who fall into the high-risk category for the coronavirus and will work remotely all season.

At Fenway Park, weights and other exercise equipment were set up Thursday in the concourse under the seats that Red Sox fans won't be allowed to occupy when the season finally starts.

Things certainly are different for baseball's resumption amid the pandemic, three weeks before the start of a 60-game regular season. The Rangers, Mets, Mariners and Red Sox are among the teams set for their first official summer workouts Friday, along with the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals minus first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross after they opted out of the season.

After the Toronto Blue Jays received a Canadian government exemption Thursday to work out at Rogers Centre, every team will be at its home ballpark to restart preseason workouts that abruptly came to a halt March 12 in Arizona and Florida.

The Rangers will hold the first official team activity in their new retractable-roof stadium, even though some players have been working out there for several weeks. Players will be in different groups and times for workouts after Woodward's remarks by video conference.

Along with some similarity to what he said in February when the team initially gathered at its spring training complex in Surprise, Arizona, Woodward is...

06/30/2020   Seattle PI Mariners

Trying to find out the status of a baseball player coming back from an ankle injury definitely will be easier than learning whether someone tested positive for the coronavirus.

Major League Baseball said Tuesday that a team will not specifically announce a COVID-19 injured list placement for a player who is removed from the club after testing positive, just an IL trip.

MLB's operations manual says a positive test, exhibiting symptoms that require isolation for additional assessment or exposure to someone who has had the virus are cause for placement on the new COVID-19 IL.

“It would be a speculating circumstance," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told media during a conference call.

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement states that for any medical condition not related to employment “a club may disclose only the fact that a medical condition is preventing the player from rendering services to the club and the anticipated length of the player’s absence from the club.”

Cashman noted the situation continues to evolve as MLB and the players' union continue discussions. Testing of players and staff will begin Wednesday as they report to their teams to resume workouts. They will be tested once every two days.

Last week, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies became the first MLB player known to have tested positive. According to reports, the All-Star outfielder was one of three Colorado players to have a positive test.

Numerous other teams have said they have players who have tested positive for the virus without identifying any of them. The Philadelphia Phillies announced seven, while the Detroit Tigers said one player who was living in Florida but not working out at the team’s spring training facilities in Lakeland also tested positive.

Seattle...

06/29/2020   Seattle PI Mariners

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto had at one point expected former first-round pick Logan Gilbert to be pitching at T-Mobile Park by the time June rolled around.

He also believed Jarred Kelenic, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, would likely soon follow him to the big leagues, set to join a group of prospects expected to be at the core of the Mariners' rebuilding project.

“Eventually, our players are still going to hit the ground running and achieve whatever ceiling they were able to achieve,” Dipoto said. "It may just take a little bit longer.”

From Seattle to Kansas City, Baltimore to Miami, rebuilding teams that were hoping to see their young prospects play in the majors this season are reevaluating their plans.

The challenge: figure out how to get a substantive season in for some of the top talent in the minor leagues that these clubs are banking on to eventually become contributors if they ever want to climb out of division basements. And do it amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to knock out all minor league play this year.

Is it worth starting the clock on the career of a top prospect for a truncated 60-game season? What about the taxi squad each team will keep? Is there enough of an opportunity for meaningful at-bats or innings to pitch? Could there be an expanded fall league option in Arizona, presuming health and safety concerns allow for that?

All key questions. None with straightforward answers.

“It is affecting all 30 clubs,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. “And it is something that as we head into the fall, winter, the 2021 season we’re going to have to adjust our expectations in terms of guys’ pacing, in terms of guys’ likelihood and timing at making an impact at the next level.”

The...