NORTH PORT, Fla. -- As Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos spent time Friday morning discussing the team’s plans, his cautious tone indicated he was anticipating what occurred nearly eight hours later, when Major League Baseball suspended all Spring Training operations.
MLB’s release stated players can elect to return home, remain in their Spring Training cities or return to their club’s home city. This decision was made after Commissioner Rob Manfred met with union chief Tony Clark and other MLB Players Association officials in Arizona on Friday.
Manfred and Clark met one day after MLB had suspended Spring Training operations and delayed the start of the regular season for at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Though the Braves’ Spring Training facility will remain open to players who choose to stay to work out with select staff members, many of the organization’s employees who reside in Atlanta have either left North Port or are preparing to do so within the next few days. This includes Anthopoulos and manager Brian Snitker.
Freddie Freeman, Tyler Flowers, Mike Foltynewicz, Dansby Swanson, Darren O’Day, Sean Newcomb and Nick Markakis are among the Braves’ notable players who own a residence in Atlanta, which is an approximate 7 1/2-hour drive from the team’s Spring Training facility.
Once there is better indication of when the regular season might begin, the Braves will decide how to reconvene and resume the preparations that were made over the past few weeks.
Anthopoulos met with all of his Major League and Minor League players early Friday morning to share an open discussion about how to best satisfy personal and family needs during this unprecedented period.
“We came together today with a lot of talking,” Anthopoulos said. “Today wasn’t about, 'Hey, I’ve got to get treatment' or 'I’ve got to throw a bullpen.' It was about life. Obviously, nobody has ever been through anything like this before. So, I think we’re all feeling it. It’s a wave of emotions right now. Obviously, everyone’s health and safety right now is of paramount importance.”
Here are a few of the other questions Anthopoulos answered during a conference call on Friday morning.
Have your players been tested for the coronavirus?
Anthopoulos: I don’t know how much, in terms of HIPPA Laws, [which protect the privacy of medical records] I can say and can’t say. All I can tell you right now is we don’t have any cases right now on our Major League or Minor League side.
What would you like to see from your pitchers as they attempt to remain conditioned without knowing exactly when the regular season will begin?
Anthopoulos: We have not talked baseball. This is well beyond baseball. Our discussions today have been about what is going on in the world right now and what is going on with our families. We just don’t have enough information right now. Today was not a day in our minds to get into thinking about baseball at all. We’ve seen how things have evolved and developed in light of the news. We’re just there for our players and obviously the industry and the world.
Have your players been given instructions about what they should try to avoid away from the ballpark?
Anthopoulos: We had our medical staff address all groups of players in terms of precautions and things like that. Again, in my conversations with a lot of the players, they are taking every precaution. I think they’re doing everything they should be doing. From that standpoint, I think everyone has a very good understanding of where we are from a global perspective.