Forty-five minutes before the Yankees were scheduled to bus Tuesday from Philadelphia to Yankee Stadium, where they had a workout planned, the itinerary changed drastically.
So, instead of opening a two-game series against the Phillies on Wednesday night in The Bronx, after two games in Philadelphia were postponed when more than a dozen Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 after spending the weekend at Citizens Bank Park, the Yankees instead went to Baltimore and will play two games against the Orioles starting Wednesday.
The move had to be approved by players on each club and the Yankees showed general manager Brian Cashman they are comfortable with the health and safety protocols and have a hunger to play.
“We are excited about the crew we have and we are excited right now that we have avoided the COVID situation to put us in position to play and I think the fact that our players said what they said [Tuesday] when they voted, ‘We will go to Baltimore,’ ” Cashman said on a Zoom call late Tuesday afternoon while his club prepared for a trip to Baltimore and a Camden Yard workout Tuesday night. “Their attitude is, ‘Tell us where and we will be there.’ I think it is a very powerful statement by them.’’
Living and playing in a world with an invisible enemy provokes anxiety, but according to Zack Britton his teammates have been calmed by the way the Yankees have handled the situation.
“The Yankees will go above and beyond the measures they need to keep us in a safe environment,’’ said Britton, who as the player representative to the players’ association, chaired the meeting. “From a players’ standpoint we are confident. We feel if we follow the guidelines and with our organization going above and beyond a lot of the protocols to ensure out safety I think we should be OK.’’
According to Britton, the players discussed what was on the table.
“We were given some options on what we possibly could do. Guys felt like, obviously we want to play. Our team has done a pretty good job, I think, following the protocols, and our medical staff has done a great job of sanitizing the visiting clubhouse and things like that,’’ Britton said. “We felt like we didn’t want to take three or four days off. There is an opportunity to go to Baltimore to play. That is what we wanted to do and that is what we decided.’’
The outbreak among the Marlins’ players before one full week of games had been played raised question about MLB’s chance of completing a 60-game season. Britton believes the players and teams have to shoulder a big part of doing their respective parts to stay as safe as possible.
“I think every organization is responsible for the way they approach this,” he said. “You don’t have MLB officials every day in the clubhouse monitoring this so a lot of the responsibility falls on the players and the organization to do the right thing and follow the protocols. I think we are doing a great job as an organization following the protocols and going above and beyond to make sure we are healthy and our players are available to play.’’
Aaron Boone has often talked about the team that mentally handles the changing tides of the season will be ahead of those who don’t.
“We always try to be prepared for adversity. We know adversity is coming our way and 2020 is unlike anything we all have experienced. We knew going into this that we would have to prepare for some uncomfortable situations, some difficult times, difficult days,’’ Boone said. “From a baseball standpoint, from a virus standpoint, from travel, from inconveniences. I do feel like we are uniquely equipped to handle that. I think that is one of those things that is going to be critical if you are going to have success on the baseball field this year. You are going to have to deal with the curveballs.’’
The breaking pitch that was delivered Tuesday to the Yankees was further proof that nothing about this weird season is paying attention to a script.
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