PORT ST. LUCIE — Baseball activities were conducted Saturday at the Mets’ spring-training complex, in a limited scope, and will likely continue throughout the duration of the sport’s shutdown because of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen indicated he was still trying to determine how many players might remain to work out under club guidance. But after a morning meeting with players and staff, Van Wagenen said the organization is not applying pressure in any direction. Players and staff members have the option to remain, go home or return to New York during the layoff.
Van Wagenen said players received treatment Saturday, worked out in the weight room and participated in some baseball activities. Live batting practice (in which batters hit against pitchers throwing at full speed) is not occurring, according to the GM.
Multiple sources indicated many Mets players will likely remain at the spring training site to continue workouts. MLB on Thursday canceled the remainder of the spring training schedule due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We are operating right now that this is bigger than baseball,” Van Wagenen said on a conference call. “This is not about preparing for competition today as much as it is making sure players are considering their own circumstances, because naturally each player has a very different circumstance from one another and we’re encouraging players to be thoughtful and measured in considering their personal and family situations and then we can accommodate them from a baseball standpoint as we have a better handle on players’ individual decision-making.”
Several Mets players own residences within a manageable distance from camp, so staying home and working out with the club, at least on a part-time basis, isn’t a significant issue. Jacob deGrom, for instance, resides about two hours away in central Florida and can commute two or three days a week if he chooses to work out. Noah Syndergaard owns a residence within 45 minutes of Clover Park and can adopt the same routine. If players who reside in other countries decide to leave, Van Wagenen said the club will actively monitor travel guidelines to ensure they will be allowed to return in a timely manner once the sport reopens.
MLB has indicated the start of the regular season will be delayed “at least two weeks,” but many industry insiders expect the layoff to last much longer.
“At this point our focus remains on today’s activities,” Van Wagenen said. “We spoke with players this morning and outlined the message that we want them to have, which is to focus on their own safety, health and that of their families. We will build a schedule of how many players intend to be at the facility [Sunday], but right now we have the players to stay in close communication with us on their plans, and those who are traveling home we will be working with them on accommodations.”
Van Wagenen indicated Donovan Mitchell Sr., the team’s director of player relations and community outreach, has been the only member of the on-site staff tested for the coronavirus. Mitchell was tested after his son, Donovan Mitchell Jr. — a star player for the Utah Jazz — contracted the virus. The father and son had been together within the previous week. Mitchell Sr.’s test was negative.
“There was a sigh of relief to a degree of our players and staff here,” Van Wagenen said. “But we’ll continue to monitor and work with our health and performance and medical professionals as well as state and local authorities to make sure all of our people here on site are as safe as possible.”