Communication key for Twins during MLB delay

March 24th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a different world, the Twins would have been in the Bay Area by now, preparing for an Opening Day contest that had originally been scheduled for Thursday in Oakland. That realization dawned on Nelson Cruz on Monday morning before he dialed into a conference call with Twin Cities media.

"I was thinking about it, that this week would be Opening Day, and it won't be able to happen," Cruz said on the call. "We have to stay where we are at and have to stay confident, and when that moment comes, we will be excited like it is March 26, if that is the case."

But still, nobody has any sense for when that moment will come, and around the world, players like Cruz and player representative Taylor Rogers have been working out, napping, watching movies and doing anything they can to stave off boredom as they wait for an end to the coronavirus pandemic that does not yet appear to be in sight.

"I've made a point to be calling people, calling teammates," Rogers said. "I just think with our younger group, they’re more text messagers. I figure I’d just call them and [tick] them off now that they have to talk on the phone. We don’t have anything else to do. I like to make phone calls.

"I think my closet is color-coded at the moment. That’s how bored I am. It is what it is."

Rogers said that the focus of the Major League Baseball Players Association has been more on the well-being of the athletes and their families as they have spread out to their homes across the nation -- and the world -- and that he isn't yet aware of any advanced discussions about a start date or logistics for a possible 2020 season due to the quickly evolving situation and the lack of precedent for such an event.

Rogers does have a sense that both the MLBPA and the league have a strong interest in playing as many games as possible, and he said that he was pleased with the open dialogue and exchange of ideas between both sides with that in mind.

Cruz and other position players have been working out around the country, and because they haven't completely shut down their routines, the veteran designated hitter doesn't feel that it will take too long for the offense to build back up for a season. Rogers feels the same way about the relief pitchers, who continue to play catch and do in-home workouts.

It would take longer for starting pitchers to build back up to 100 pitches, which would likely necessitate another approximation of Spring Training, though one advantage of the Twins' roster is the wealth of starting options that could eat innings and fill any gaps, as José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer and Sean Poppen could all be viable Major League options when games resume.

"I think the difference between now and when the season is over, I think everybody shut down, everybody goes home and takes a rest, whether it be two or three weeks, a month," Cruz said. "But now, everybody is just probably still working out. If they call, I don’t think it would take much time for us to be ready like when we are done with the season."

In the meantime, Rogers wants to make sure that his teammates stay both mentally and physically ready ahead of that call -- whenever it could come.

"I think talking with guys is the best way to keep that around, to keep the ultimate end goal in mind and keep everybody in a fresh mindset, knowing that we're all in this situation together," Rogers said. "We're doing pretty good there. I think everybody's got a nice thing in place to be ready whenever the bell rings."