When Major League Baseball first cancelled remaining Spring Training games and delayed the start of the season in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the expectation was teams would attempt to keep as normal of a schedule with their respective camps.
The Los Angeles Dodgers planned to keep Camelback Ranch open for involuntary workouts. However, that also was likely to be a challenge in itself. “The tricky part is, I think players will argue Spring Training in itself is too long,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said last week.
“Now you’re adding two weeks on, so to go with this same pace, is a lot to ask. I think you’ve got to understand and back off a little bit to keep guys engaged and focused. There’s a balance. I think that communication with me, the front office, the players, is important.”
Since Roberts’ comments, MLB has suspended all Spring Training operations, encouraged players to leave camp and banned organized activities in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on mass gatherings.
As Opening Day is now pushed back to the middle of May in a best-case scenario, Roberts’ concern with pitchers is all the more noteworthy. “Most of the injuries, as far as pitching, happen in April and May,” he said. “So I think this is a pivotal time for pitchers — mainly starting pitchers.
“If you’re going to take three days off, you might as well take three weeks off. I think keeping your arm going, the intensity, is important. So I think us having the doors open and guys being able to come here and throw ‘pens, is important. The volume is going to be curtailed, but I still think guys have got to keep up the intensity.”
With access to Camelback Ranch now limited, it puts more of an onus on pitchers to continue their own routines. The likes of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw both broke from their previous offseason plan and regularly kept their arm active throughout the winter.
Roberts had named Kershaw the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter, with Buehler slated to pitch in the second game of the series against the San Francisco Giants.
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