Van Wagenen: 'This is bigger than baseball'

March 14th, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Like the rest of the baseball world, the Mets spent Saturday attempting to figure out how to proceed -- both logistically and otherwise -- in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has delayed the start of the Major League season.

“We’re operating right now that this is bigger than baseball,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said.

Mets officials met Saturday with players in both Major and Minor League camps, stressing to them that they should do what is best for their families now that players are allowed to leave Spring Training sites. For some, that could mean going home. For others, New York City is an option. The general sense among club officials, however, was that the bulk of Mets players would stay in Port St. Lucie to continue working out.

To that end, Van Wagenen spent Saturday determining how many uniformed and non-uniformed staff members would be needed to accommodate the players left in camp. Staffers were on site Saturday morning, aiding a group of players who received treatment, lifted weights and/or participated in light baseball activities.

“Given the pace at which information is coming in, and circumstances are changing, we really are only focused on this afternoon, today’s schedule,” Van Wagenen said.

Many questions remain unanswered, including when Opening Day will take place (it won’t be before April 9). The Mets will attack such issues in the coming days, after plowing through the immediate obstacles in front of them. Largely, those are logistical.

At a higher level, Van Wagenen stressed, the team wants to make sure players are comfortable. For those who wish to remain in Port St. Lucie, the team will continue to provide food and other accommodations. For those who leave, the Mets will monitor local and global travel restrictions.

“Are we concerned?” Van Wagenen said. “We’re very thoughtful and concerned right now with the well-being of our players and their families, and will continue to be, and will want to make sure we have the best information as quickly as possible so that players can make the good decisions that are best for their particular situations.”

There were no pressing safety concerns Saturday at Mets camp, after the team announced that staffer Donovan Mitchell Sr. -- the father of NBA star Donovan Mitchell Jr., who recently tested positive for COVID-19 -- tested negative for the virus. No other Mets players or staffers in Port St. Lucie have been tested for the pandemic.