DETROIT -- This is not the way Matthew Boyd envisioned heading north with the Tigers at the end of Spring Training.
Tuesday was the day the Tigers were scheduled to play their final Grapefruit League game, facing the Pirates at Joker Marchant Stadium, then fly north to Cleveland ahead of their Thursday season opener against the Indians at Progressive Field. The coronavirus pandemic put baseball, like much of the world, on hold.
Now, with no clear date for when the season might begin, Boyd is making the drive north to Detroit with his wife Ashley, their two children and their bulldog.
“We’re excited to get back to our home,” Boyd said in a text message.
It’s a decision several Tigers still in Lakeland, Fla., are expected to weigh in the coming days as Spring Training leases end, further dwindling the number of players working out at the Tigertown complex. Less than a dozen players remained at the end of last week by Boyd’s estimation. Daniel Norris said he is also probably heading to Detroit soon.
Logistically, the migration makes sense. Many players who were expected to make the Opening Day roster had already lined up housing for the start of the season. They could train at Comerica Park, but the stay-at-home order currently in effect in Michigan could impact that the next few weeks.
Still, for many, it’s a logical choice. When Spring Training was suspended nearly two weeks ago, players on Major League contracts were given a choice to remain in Florida, head to Detroit or head back home. Non-roster invites and Minor League players generally returned home.
For the Boyds, returning to their home in Seattle wasn’t really an option, given how hard that area has been hit by the pandemic.
The Tigers were unified a week-and-a-half ago in their desire to stay in Lakeland and continue working out, even if limited to small groups. Between the limited scope of the workouts, the progression of the pandemic and MLB’s subsequent announcement that the season would be delayed by more than the initial timeline of two weeks, the camp numbers have dropped.
Now, with Boyd and others heading north, the Tigers’ wait enters a new phase.