CLEVELAND, Ohio – Players have their pandemic baseball stories.
Carlos Carrasco built a pitcher’s mound in his front yard and recruited a neighbor who was a college catcher to handle his shots.
Zach Plesac sometimes threw the ball against a brick wall in an alleyway in downtown Cleveland to try to keep his arm in shape.
Shane Bieber stayed with former college teammate Kyle Nelson near Westmount College in Santa Barbara. They took turns in the university grounds. Bieber will be the starter for the opening day of the Tribe. Nelson is a left reliever who is one of 60 players brought to Cleveland to compete for a spot on the list.
Tyler Naquin lives in Crocker Park. He worked at the top of the parking lot in the commercial area, throwing balls against the wall and inventing other individual exercises.
Jose Ramirez hit former Tribe pitcher Trevor Bauer “in the desert,” according to manager Terry Francona.
COVID-19 has closed businesses such as health clubs and spring training centers. Most of the parks have been closed. Listening to the players during Zoom’s teleconferences explains how they missed the game and adapted to the COVID-19 world was refreshing.
“In the end, everyone here loves to play baseball,” said Bieber. “We like to be here, day after day. … We are pleased. We are ready. Were excited. “
Carrasco thought back to a year when he told his teammates that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. No one knew if he would be able to launch again, but he returned to the mound in September. Carrasco was slated to join the Tribe’s 2020 rotation when the virus shut down baseball in mid-March.
“I’m glad I fought because of this because I love to play baseball,” said Carrasco. “I’m ready to go. “
Carrasco then stated that he had built his arm to be able to throw six innings.
“I did it (throw six innings) on Sunday,” he said. “I started six rounds in Florida (where he lives). I built a gymnasium at home, I built a mound. … I throw every day, I lift every day and I run. Right now, I’m ready to go. ”
Players also know that Carrasco is at high risk for COVID-19 due to its battle with leukemia. Francona also, who had heart, circulation and other health problems.
“We have to take care of these guys,” said Bieber. “We cannot be selfish. We must take care of ourselves first. But in the back of our minds, we do it to take care of our teammates and the Tribe family. “
The tribe also rallied to the return of Carrasco.
“You can see her smile, even behind her face mask,” said Bieber. “It’s the man. We all appreciate it. We embrace it. ”
TO STAY HEALTHY
Naquin underwent ACL knee surgery in September. He would not have been ready for the scheduled opening day of March 26. He is in good health now.
Aside from Delino DeShields, who is recovering from what appears to be a mild case of COVID-19, the Indians have no players, according to tribal president Chris Antonetti. This must be a relief as it was unclear whether these guys would pull hamstrings, sprain their ankles and have other injuries as they train away from the team.
Playing the 60 game schedule against teams only in their own central division and the National Central League gives the tribe a good chance at making the playoffs. Antonetti was almost bubbling as he talked about the deep start-up rotation of his team and the players who trained on the field.
“I am not sure I have ever been so excited,” he said. “It’s great to come back to baseball issues and how we are going to determine who starts what day for us. “
THE GREAT CHALLENGE
Francona, GM Mike Chernoff and Antonetti insisted on the need for players to follow the different COVID-19 rules of life. We hear them all the time. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Social distancing.
Also, no spitting!
While players are technically not “in a bubble” and essentially confined to a hotel like the NBA in Orlando does, they are told to be smart away from the park.
“There are common sense situations where you see that things are packed (with people),” said Plesac. “Going out to bars and drinking … doing things like that is really not important to us right now. “
Staying away from a massive COVID-19 escape will be the key to success for each team. Francona verbally underlined the word “cooperation”, adding that “it’s going to be huge”.
He said the players are taking the situation seriously.
“We watched the presentation on the virus and everyone paid attention to it,” said Francona. “Everyone asked questions. Everyone was wearing a mask. … No one has complained. ”
They missed the game. Now they must maintain their appreciation of being back by also being obedient to all of the new rules.
“We had the privilege of being able to come back to play,” said Plesac. “Given this short window… now is a good time to retreat and focus on what’s important. “
RECENT COLUMNS OF TERRY PLUTO
Many baseball fans are angry and Terry Francona understands why
Thinking (and crying) of minor league baseball
Hey Terry, what about the Tribe? The National anthem?
From Cam Newton to New England? Will Belichick make it work?
Will Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt be happy in the new offense? Terry’s Talkin ‘Browns
Terry’s Talkin ‘Tribe: What does the season mean?
Baseball comes back, trying to make my voice heard
What about Jamal Adams? Let’s talk browns
Senate football coaches feel left out
What about defensive goals with the Browns?
Kyrie Irving is wrong again
New Indian masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indian-themed face covers for protection from coronaviruses, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a pack of 3 ($ 24.99). All profits from the MLB are donated to charity.