PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets remained in a coronavirus-induced holding pattern Saturday afternoon as the players decided whether to stay in Port St. Lucie, go to New York or return to their homes.
The club expects “a high majority of guys to stick around,” one source said after a morning meeting to debrief players. And once they have a clearer idea of who wants to continue to work out at the Clover Park complex with spring training officially suspended, the Mets can figure out what a daily routine will look like and who among the coaching and front-office staff also will stay, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said.
“Our focus and our encouragement is first and foremost about player and family well-being,” Van Wagenen said on a conference call with reporters, “and we are encouraging people to talk to their families and make sure that they're focusing on their health and safety above and beyond the competition or baseball activities.”
Van Wagenen said he didn’t know anything about plans for Sunday and beyond, including how to approach this delay to the start of the season — at least two weeks, with a widespread expectation that it will be longer — from a baseball and game-readiness perspective.
On Saturday, some players got treatment from the training staff, worked out in the weight room and participated in some baseball activities.
“The plan for each player will vary,” Van Wagenen said. “What I can say is that we are not having extended simulation games or live BP sessions where pitchers are throwing to hitters today. As information comes in, we will start to schedule the agenda for the days that are coming.
“We're operating right now that this is bigger than baseball. This is not about preparing for competition today as much as it is making sure that players are considering their own circumstances, because naturally each player has a very different circumstance from one another. We're encouraging players to be thoughtful and to be measured in considering their personal and family situations.”
The Mets’ stay-or-go decision-making process was delayed Friday as they waited for COVID-19 test results for Donovan Mitchell Sr., their director of player relations and community engagement. Mitchell’s son, NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell Jr., tested positive for the virus, and if his father had, too, it would have massively complicated the Mets’ situation.
When Mitchell Sr.’s test came back negative Friday night, it removed one degree of difficulty for the Mets.
No one else at Mets spring training has needed to be tested for the coronavirus, Van Wagenen said.
“We all were very pleased and happy for Donovan, his family, that his test came back negative,” he said. “And I know there was a sigh of relief to a degree of our players and staff here.”
Van Wagenen said he didn’t “have that information at hand” about anything the Mets might do to take care of hourly/seasonal stadium workers who might suffer because of the delayed season. Across sports, some players and teams have started funds to help out those employees.
Like much of the rest of baseball and the sports world — and the "real" world — the Mets are sort of winging it. Van Wagenen said the organization will accept further guidance from Major League Baseball and the players’ union, who met again Saturday to try to figure out how to move forward.
“Given the pace at which information is coming in and circumstances are changing, we really are only focused on [Saturday’s] schedule, the number of people that will be in camp with us [Sunday] and then mapping out their day,” Van Wagenen said. “This is bigger than Opening Day. We want to make sure that their families and friends and their own individual health is the paramount concern at this point.”