Today Jerry Dipoto did a conference call to offer clarity on what baseball coming back will look like, and what that will look like for the Mariners, specifically. I hope you like lots and lots of details, because that’s what we’ve got for you, conveniently split up by categories, because this is a lot to take in, y’all. And it’s all happening so quickly! Or maybe not, but that’s how it feels after months of reading increasingly snarky official statements and deeply considering becoming a fan of marble racing and staring at the giant hole in my life where baseball usually lives.
The big news is this: The Mariners have had players (as in, more than one, but no definitive number given) test positive for COVID-19. Those players are asymptomatic, but won’t report to workouts next week at T-Mobile. Dipoto says he expects all other players to report, meaning none will be opting to sit out the season.
- The deadline for submitting the full 60-man roster is Sunday June 28th at noon. Players will then be expected to report by July 1, where they will need to take a class on health and safety (COVID class?) in the presence of team officials before being cleared to work out. The season is expected to begin July 23 or 24.
- Veteran free agents signed to split deals must be notified by Friday the 26th as to their status so they can seek new deals if not assigned to a major league club. The roster freeze lifts on Friday, so expect a transaction storm.
- The Mariners’ first team workout since...February? will be a full-squad workout on July 3. They will then go on to play intrasquad scrimmages, but likely no exhibition games, given the teams’ geographic isolation from other clubs.
- Some pitchers, like Justin Dunn and Yusei Kikuchi, have been working out at the Mariners facility in Arizona and throwing to live batters, so should arrive prepared for a typical spring training workload of two-inning starts.
- A fun reminder in case you forgot: despite the geographic realignment and playing in-division to keep everyone traveling less, the Mariners’ shortest trip for an away game remains 800 miles.
- Another fun fact about the Mariners’ schedule:
Hardest 2020 Strength of Schedules in AL based on 2019 records— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) June 24, 2020
.517 Blue Jays
.500 Red Sox
.477 White Sox
- Players on the taxi squad will not receive service time and will be paid their minor-league salaries.
- Any player from the taxi squad must be added to the 40-man roster in order to play in games.
- Any player removed from the taxi squad (60-man roster) would be considered “released” and put on outright waivers.
- Per John Stanton on 710, he expects Mariners prospects like Logan Gilbert, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby, Cal Raleigh, and Emerson Hancock (!) to be on the taxi squad. These players won’t get into games, but will scrimmage against each other.
- The taxi squad will be headquartered at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, home of the Tacoma Rainiers. Until the season starts, both teams will work out at T-Mobile. There is a process to go through to get cleared by the county to resume activities, which the Mariners will have to do with both King County (T-Mobile) and Pierce County (Cheney). The Mariners might also make use of Funko Field in Everett, although that involves getting yet another county’s sign-off (Snohomish).
The broadcast experience:
- Home teams will provide television broadcast feed, which is supposed to be “neutral,” giving equal time to both sides. As those of us who have MLB.tv can tell you, prepare yourself for a Dave Sims/Mike Blowers appreciation tour. Radio broadcasters will be allowed to travel with the team, so you’ll always have that option.
- The Mariners will be attempting to re-create a game day experience with piped-in crowd noise, walkup music, MarinersVision, etc. I hope they leave the doomsday preacher out of the game day experience. That’s one thing I won’t be missing about baseball season.
The day-to-day operations of the ballpark:
- Any player or coach coming within six feet of an umpire to argue a call is subject to suspension. And probably will be sent back to COVID Class for more training.
- Players are now allowed to use Uber and Lyft to get to and from the ballpark, but public transportation is banned. (This one is probably more of an issue for the NYC-based players, who actually do sometimes use the subways to get to games.)
- It’s probably not great that the first thought that occurred to me when I read this was “oh, so like passenger classes on the Titanic.”
Tier 1 has access anywhere in facilities. Tier 2 has access to these restricted areas, but must keep distance from Tier 1 folks and wear PPE. Tier 3 has no access to the restricted areas. Clubs control how many Tier 3s they let in, but it can't exceed 150.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) June 24, 2020
- Players who test positive for COVID and are sent into quarantine don’t have a set number of days they’ll sit out; in order to return, a player must test negative twice in a row, have no fever present for 72 hours, be cleared by doctors and MLB, and perhaps take and pass a cardiac exam.