Gonna get into the baseball impact of coronavirus in a moment, but a general note on the topic here for anyone who needs to see it (via the ESPN piece): “Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the globe in recent months. The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for coronavirus, though researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk. The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces. The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.”
- We talked about it on ‘Onto Waveland‘ earlier this week, but now it’s here: MLB is confronting the real risks posed by the coronavirus. The league got together on initial steps, and sent around a memo on how teams should handle the issue for now – don’t high five or handshake with fans right now, stay in touch with local health authorities, make sure up to date on available vaccines, quarantine where necessary, etc.:
Major League Baseball does not presently plan to cancel or postpone spring training or regular-season games due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
News story on MLB's plans — and why autographs may be hard to come by: https://t.co/2p4G93Xwpm
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 3, 2020
- Obviously the impact on various teams and various fanbases will depend greatly on what happens at a national level over the next month, but for now, we can already look ahead to the Cubs’ planned travel to London this year and wonder if there is a potential risk:
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 3, 2020
- Everyone around the league is mostly on standby, waiting to see what the spread looks like come mid and late March, when the regular season is to get underway.
- Speaking of waiting to see, there is no decision yet on how the Cubs will proceed at second base, according to David Ross (Cubs.com): “It really is a wait and see. [Jason Kipnis] is having a good spring. David Bote’s doing well. [Nico Hoerner] is continuing to get his at-bats. … And we’ll continue to work on their defense. I’m a big proponent of defense. I like taking away hits and runs. That’s a big one for me. So, we’ll just continue to watch that.”
- Of note, Daniel Descalso didn’t come in for a specific mention there, which is neither determinative nor a surprise. After his disastrous 2019 season, there can be no presumption he’s making the team, let alone is in the mix for primary starter reps. If he’s on the team, he’d be in the mix to get at bats at a few spots and move around a bit. I tend to think one of the other mentioned three are more likely to kinda look like a nominal “starter” in the early part of the season. Best guess as I sit here today? Hoerner still heads to AAA Iowa to open the season, while Bote and Kipnis split the position, with Bote getting more starts than you’d normally anticipate for the weak side of a platoon (making him the kinda-sorta “starter,” but not really). And Kipnis will have to show that he really is turning the tide of the last three years to stick around for more than the first couple months.
- … not that I’d be opposed to Hoerner just winning the job outright if the Cubs think he’s ready developmentally.
- The logistical reality of trying to mic players up live during games, via Kris Bryant (Cubs.com): “Probably not. I’m just thinking of like, someone in the infield doing it and talking and they boot a ball and you lose the game. Imagine that. As much as it’s awesome and fans love it, I just don’t know if it would work.”
- It’s unfortunate, because the experience of watching Bryant and Anthony Rizzo mic’d up on ESPN and providing LIVE commentary this week was one of the most engaging games I’ve seen in a long time. When compared to the mic’ing up Marquee is doing with Cubs players – recording sound, filtering little bits, and sharing them later – it’s just not even close to the same thing, in large part because the player involvement and game feedback is entirely different. In one case, a player is just doing his normal thing. In the other case, the player is providing engagement in that moment, and knows he is. It’s not the same thing. Unfortunately, it’s also precisely the risk and problem Bryant mentioned.
- Jose Quintana on his spring debut (Cubs.com): “The first time, I wanted to throw some strikes, and see how my body was feeling. I feel great. I think at the start, I felt more like bullpen mode. After that, I started to pitch and make some pitches and hit my spots good. Other than that, I feel great for the first time. I enjoyed being back on the mound.” A reminder of a reminder: established, locked-in pitchers are not necessarily up there trying to miss bats with their full repertoire in every single spring inning they pitch.
- A couple easy ways to win yourself some Obvious Shirts swag this week: