PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- On Saturday, the Rays returned to the field for the first time -- albeit for a workout -- since Major League Baseball announced the cancellation of Spring Training games and the suspension of at least the first two weeks of the regular season.
Tampa Bay had a very “informal” optional workout Saturday, according to manager Kevin Cash, and about 30-35 players from big league camp attended. Cash said hitters took batting practice and pitchers played catch, but it was a short day for the Rays.
“Guys were positive and upbeat, but there are a lot of questions out there between what their parents are asking, their wives and girlfriends are asking, what they’re reading on the internet,” Cash said.
On Friday, MLB announced that players will have the choice of returning to their homes, remaining in their Spring Training cities, or returning to their club’s home city.
Following a Friday team meeting, the Rays decided to keep the doors open at Charlotte Sports Park, giving the players a place to get together, grab a meal and work out. Minor Leaguers who were at the facility Friday, however, were told to go home for the time being.
“The plan is to be as accommodating [as possible] to players,” Cash said. “We think that throughout all of this, we think most players will be responsible with their overall health, their bodies and trying to do something to keep the work they’ve put in ... Now, as more information comes out that might change.”
Keeping the facility open also allows rehabbing players like Brent Honeywell to continue their recoveries. Honeywell, who is attempting to come back from a broken right elbow, has been throwing two bullpen sessions per week. The current plan is for Honeywell to continue throwing during the layoff, unless the timetable for the start of the season changes.
“Honeywell is obviously a unique case because he’s coming back from an injury,” Cash said. “I think the best thing we can do is keep his arm in shape.”
On Friday, Rays general manager Erik Neander said the team is in a holding pattern and will take things day by day until the club and the league know more information surrounding the coronavirus. As of now, the Rays have a scheduled off-day on Sunday, but plan to hold another informal workout in Port Charlotte on Monday.
“This is new for all of us,” Neander said. “I think there is an understanding that we’re all just trying to do the best that we can and we’re taking our guidance from the health professionals and agencies that have been consulted and have weighed in.
“We’re just trying to do the best we can to be responsible, not just to one another, but our fans and our community at large. This is certainly an unprecedented situation for many, if not all of us here, and I think there is a level of respect and understanding that this is new and we’re trying to do the best we can.”