As discussions accelerate about how, when or if baseball will begin its 2020 season, the Cardinals are making internal plans and exploring the feasibility of holding preseason training at Busch Stadium, while also readying the Jupiter, Fla., complex as a site to hold "Camp 2.0."
“We have to plan for both possibilities,” said John Mozeliak, the team’s president of baseball operations. “We don’t know when ‘Camp 2.0’ will be, but we have to think about what it would look like in both places.”
In the past week, players, agents, and several teams have increased the conversation about when players should begin increasing the intensity of their workouts to be ready for the resumption of preseason training, and then a season. A Cleveland player advertised on Twitter a target date of July 1, and the Fourth of July has also been mentioned – somewhat as a ceremonial date for baseball’s return. Neither are finalized, officials caution. What has become clear is that players are wondering if the reopening of states, cities, and business from the coronavirus crisis signals a need to ramp up their workloads.
They seek guidance as a time certainty isn’t available.
Mozeliak acknowledged an “urgency” in the plans that teams are putting together, but added that no date has been offered as a destination.
The Cardinals have started putting together a plan for what a spring training camp would look like in downtown St. Louis, and how to prepare players with one ballfield.
Mozeliak said it’s obvious that the players would have to use the field in shifts — and that may help the team meet social distancing guidelines at the same time. Before closing the facility at Jupiter to official workouts, the Cardinals described a concept of having workouts by group — big-league infielders, backup infielders, outfielders, and pitchers and catcher at various times. Using Busch Stadium for spring training would also mean streamlining the roster, but it would centralize the team’s work and bring some baseball activity back to the city sooner.
As with any return of baseball, city policies and municipal guidelines as well as the best-practices suggested by the CDC and Major League Baseball would govern the amount of players, officials, and people in general that can gather at the ballpark. Major League Baseball expects to return for spring training and games in front of an empty ballpark.
Several players, like pitchers Adam Wainwright and Kwang Hyun Kim, have spent the quarantine in St. Louis. As of last week, a few other players had started exploring how to return to St. Louis to their in-season homes, and were considering that move, or had made it.
Asked if the Cardinals had an idea on the minimum length of a second spring training, Mozeliak said there wasn't a precise, settled time.
Manager Mike Shildt described a 12-day or two-week plan. It's possible that MLB would give teams even a 17-day camp, as that would allow for three turns through a five-man pitching rotation. In the past week, a player and an agent have described a plan that would include a live batting session and two exhibition appearances before the regular season began.
None of that will be finalized until a start date can be.
A possible drawback to "Camp 2.0" in St. Louis is it could eliminate the Cardinals’ ability to play exhibition games – meaning players would go from scrimmages and live-batting sessions into a game that counts in the modified regular season.
“That’s a big question,” Mozeliak acknowledged. “Whether it’s home site vs. spring training site, and what exhibition games are possible. Obviously the spring training site makes it easier to put together games against neighboring teams. How that would change things, we don’t yet know. I would put it in this perspective: Having exhibition games at this point is a lesser priority than just getting back and getting the game going again.”
There will be more on this story and other developments at StlToday.com.
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