32 of 37 players participated in eight-player groups during the first day of Summer Camp — AKA Spring Training 2.0 — at the Trop on Friday. Two others — non-roster catchers Chris Herrmann and Kevan Smith — were moved to the Rays Spring Training complex in Port Charlotte, where the remaining 23 players in Tampa Bay’s pool are based, to better distribute the workload.
Those who did not participate were Yonny Chirinos, Chaz Roe, and Jose Martinez, all of whom are expected to be on the Rays’ Opening Day roster.
Rays skipper Kevin Cash said Chirinos, Roe, and Martinez missed the first day of Summer Camp for a variety of reasons, although he couldn’t get into specifics per Major League Baseball’s health protocols — MLB has told ball-clubs not to comment on COVID-19 related issues due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) concerns unless a player gives explicit permission.
There were a variety of reasons as to why we were not at 100 percent attendance. …Given all of the protocols, guidelines that we’re trying to follow, we’re not going to get into specifics.— Kevin Cash
That left writers, like Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), to speculate on the absence of Chirinos, Roe, and Martinez.
A travel delay wasn’t the issue, as Chirinos and Martinez were among the dozen-plus players working out at the Trop over the past six weeks. All others, such as Roe, arrived by Wednesday’s report day to undergo the intake testing — saliva for COVID-19 and blood for antibodies — required before they can join the group.
Among possibilities for their absence — besides a positive COVID-19 test that requires isolation — are a delay in getting the results from their tests, showing coronavirus symptoms, or being in known contact with someone who has tested positive for symptoms. (MLB said Friday that 31 players and seven staffers spread across 19 teams tested positive.)
Or they could be otherwise sick, injured or dealing with a personal or family matter. (Martinez, for what it’s worth, is a regular on social media but hasn’t posted in several days.)— Marc Topkin
Meanwhile, on the field, Cash said he was pleased with the overall look of the group.
It was great to see the guy. You could tell most of the guys came in and had been doing something to keep their bodies in shape.— Kevin Cash
Some players were relegated to conditioning work, which may have taken place outdoors, while others utilized the new batting cage with pitching mounds beneath the stands for live batting practice sessions. Hour-long workgroups took place on the field; ground balls and fly balls were taken on the turf as well as during standard batting practice.
Jalen Beeks, Pete Fairbanks, Charlie Morton, Colin Poche, Trevor Richards, and Ryan Yarbrough all threw off the mound.
Following a three-inning simulated game, Morton conceded the circumstances were odd, all though the team did a great job preparing for it. He also said that he’s not completely comfortable playing in the midst of a pandemic.
I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of doing this. But I don’t know how long we’re supposed to sit in our homes and wait to make a decision about our careers. …My intention was to play if we had the opportunity. It’s my job I feel like I have a responsibility to the organization. I feel like I have a responsibility to try.— Charlie Morton
Morton, the presumed Opening Day starter, believes he could be extended to go four innings by the scheduled start of the season.
— Cincinnati Reds southpaw Amir Garrett made an outstanding point on Friday, encouraging everyone to remember that just because baseball is back, we have a lot of work to do on other fronts.
Or, in the words of Malcolm X,
You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress … No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is not shown to every one of our people in this country, it doesn’t exist for me.— Malcolm X
— MLB released the first set of results for COVID-19 testing: 38 positive tests – 31 players, 7 staff members. 1.2% of the 3,185 total samples collected and tested.
— The Rays will resume their Summer Camp activities on Saturday.