TAMPA, Fla. — This is the new normal for Yankees players.
Of course, it's subject to immediate change.
Which is pretty much the case around the world regarding the coronavirus crisis that has gripped it.
Yankees players went through informal workouts at Steinbrenner Field on Saturday as the sport entered Day 2 of its official operations being suspended because of the pandemic.
“Pretty weird,” bench coach Carlos Mendoza said late Saturday morning as he left the stadium. “It’s pretty strange. Obviously, a difficult situation, but we’re trying our best to do what we can.”
With the sport shut down indefinitely and no end to the crisis in sight, the Yankees voted unanimously Friday morning to remain in Tampa and work out.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on Friday that players on the 40-man roster could do one of three things during the shutdown: 1) stay in the area of their club’s spring training facility, 2) travel to the team’s home city or 3) return home.
“We have a shot at a World Series title,” Zack Britton, the team’s player representative, said after Friday’s workout. “We want to be prepared to seize that opportunity.”
General manager Brian Cashman is staying put in Tampa, as is manager Aaron Boone, his coaches and the club’s training and strength and conditioning staff.
As was the case Friday, much of the roster was at Steinbrenner Field, with most arriving between 8 and 9 a.m. and most, if not all, gone by noon.
“It went well,” Mendoza said. “[A] large group of players showed up today and we were to do defensive work, infield work, guys hit indoors, pitchers played catch. We’ll continue to do that.”
Among the players seen arriving or leaving the facility, which is closed to reporters — the case across the sport — were DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner, Kyle Higashioka, Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Holder and Luis Cessa. Luis Severino, out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery Feb. 27, also was spotted driving out of the stadium.
“I was happy to know that we’re all pulling in the same direction,” Britton said Friday. “I feel like we were anyway. We have a great clubhouse. But guys want to stick it out here. They could have easily gone home to be with their families, and they decided we want to stick together and get ready for the season.”
Saturday’s workout was relatively brief, compared to a typical spring training workday, but fairly comprehensive, with the exception of batting practice outdoors (players hit in the indoor cages). Otherwise, outfielders went through defensive drills on the main stadium field and infielders did their work on an adjoining field.
Asked if he was glad the players decided to stay — on Friday, MLB encouraged players to go home – Mendoza said, “Yeah.” At the same time, he reinforced, as Cashman did the day before on a conference call, that it’s optional and players are doing this on their own accord.
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, according to Britton, told players Friday the facilities would be open to players to do as much or as little work — or none at all — as they wanted and that breakfast would continue to be provided as if there was no stoppage (the clubhouse chef was seen leaving the facility late Saturday morning).
“We want to support them and obviously that’s our job,” Mendoza said. “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.”
The key words being “as of right now,” which represents the ever-changing nature of the situation.
“We’re just working because, obviously, we don’t have much information,” Mendoza said. “We’re just waiting to see what happens above us, so as of right now, it’s like business as usual.”