With baseball’s original Opening Day of March 26 officially in the books and the new Opening Day (tentatively slated for May 11) another six weeks to go, what exactly is there to do in baseball? Apparently, a lot.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci caught up with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to find out what the new norm is for a baseball manager and how he’s faring in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last Thursday’s opener was slated to be up against the San Francisco Giants in Dodger Stadium.
“It's a sad time right now,” Roberts explained. “Coaches, players, fans and media have had the day marked on their calendars for months and to not have it was disappointing.
"For the last four years as the Dodgers’ manager, Roberts has had a predictable routine the night before Opening Day. But not this year. “Virtual Opening Day was no butterflies before Opening Day, that Wednesday night, no sleeping in my jersey like I did when I was in Little League before Opening Day,” he said.
This year, he told Verducci, he had a celebratory glass of wine to commemorate 2020 Opening Day—his first time drinking wine on Opening Day, he joked—watched a lot of classic Opening Day baseball games on TV in the living room, and talked to both coaches and players who were all “drowning our sorrows relative to what's going on in our world.”
Aside from dealing with the shock of the day and the current state of affairs, Roberts largely spends his time working to keep his team together during the crisis. The organization has been fine-tuning the pitching staff, while the strength and conditioning team has been working with players on how they can decrease their workload a little bit while not going dormant.
Roberts is even taking the time to boost the team’s relationship with their minor league affiliates. As unpleasant as the stoppage of play has been, Roberts did admit that the break had been good as far as becoming better connected as an organization, and tightening up some business affairs.
As busy as managing the Dodgers can be, Roberts has been able to spend some quality time bonding with his family, even going as far as putting together a Tik Tok video with his daughter that went viral. When Verducci asked how it feels to be a social media influencer, Roberts said, “You've got to have humor at this time of strife.” Through Roberts tenure with the Dodgers, the team has remained in first place every year.