TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees players, like all of the others in the sport, are not required to stay at their spring training home during the indefinite suspension of all official Major League Baseball activities.
But according to Zack Britton, they’ve unanimously chosen to do so.
“We have a shot at a World Series title,” Britton, the team’s player representative, told reporters after a voluntary team workout at Steinbrenner Field on Friday morning, when the vote took place. “We want to be prepared to seize that opportunity.”
Players are expected to be at it again in informal workouts Saturday, perhaps Sunday and, according to Britton, most days before it is decreed that formal preparations — essentially another spring training — for the 2020 season can resume after the stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
How much of the full 162-game schedule ultimately will get played, of course, remains an unanswerable question. It is on an endless list of unanswerable questions in a story in which sports plays an infinitesimal role, a story that has changed almost hourly in the last week.
“There’s no script here that we can all fall back on and rely upon,” general manager Brian Cashman said late Friday afternoon on a conference call, one also participated in by manager Aaron Boone, who was sitting in the same room at Steinbrenner Field. “I think there’s a recognition of there’s a lot of unknown.”
Much of Friday’s activities in the sport took place behind the scenes as MLB and the Players Association navigated the terrain of the unknown and unprecedented.
Among the issues agreed upon was players having three choices: 1) stay in the area of their club’s spring training facility, 2) travel to the team’s home city or 3) simply return home.
in the foreseeable future, Cashman will stay in Tampa, as will Boone, his coaches and the team’s training and strength and conditioning staff.
“As we move forward, our facility will be available and we will continue to provide the support for the players that choose to be here to allow them to get some work in at various times during the day, and those times could change on a daily basis,” Cashman said. “We stand ready to continue moving through the coming days, at the very least. And for those players that happen to decide to stay, they can come and go on a day-in and day-out basis . . .
''I was not a part of the meeting. I can’t represent from the players’ end what their position is other than we stand ready to continue to be here on a daily basis to provide the services necessary as were negotiated, discussed or agreed upon between Major League Baseball and the Players Association.”
No MLB player is known to have contracted the virus thus far, though Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was diagnosed with the flu earlier in the week.
“[He’s] improved,” Cashman said.
The Yankees, like pretty much every club, have taken extra precautions in sanitizing their complexes.
“As an organization, we've had two separate cleaning sweeps,” Boone said. “We had one Sunday and we had one on Tuesday, where essentially a company comes in with like a bleach-type spray mist that they go over everything in the entire clubhouse. We've had that twice. Could potentially have that done again here in the next couple of days . . . if we deem it necessary again.”
For now, Yankees players are staying put, though everything at the moment is in constant flux in a worldwide health emergency that seems far closer to its start than its end.
“Each and every day is going to be a little bit different as more and more information rolls in,” Boone said. “I mean, I just think [of] the last 48 hours and how much it's changed, and I would expect it to be similar moving forward.”