Chris Bassitt will see his wife, Jessica, and his daughter, Landry Jayne every day.
That will be over video conferencing. As part of the way that Team Bassitt is dealing with Major League Baseball’s return during the middle of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Oakland pitcher won’t be in the same state, much less the same room, until the season is over.
Jessica and Landry Jayne have stayed behind in Ohio as Bassitt has joined the A’s in the Bay Area for workouts leading up to a season that is supposed to start July 24 when the A’s host the Angels.
“That’s going to be the most struggling thing I’ll face this year is just not being around them,” Bassitt said Wednesday morning before the A’s daily workout. “She and my daughter will not come out; we talked about this and … if she somehow flies across the country of drives cross country and gives it to me and then I give it to three guys on our team, I don’t think I could look myself in the mirror.
“So we basically decided that she’s gonna stay at home and just to a ton of FaceTiming. So yeah, not seeming my daughter for three or four months is going to be really tough, but thankfully we have FaceTime.”
Bassitt came into the season as the A’s prime swing man, ready to pivot between starting and working out of the bullpen. And it’s been a yo-yo time. He was going to be in the rotation back in March because A.J. Puk wasn’t going to be stretched out. Then the pandemic shut baseball down, Puk recovered and when Bassitt reported last week he was in the bullpen.
But that didn’t last long. Jesus Luzardo tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and hasn’t been able to work out. While the left-hander is quarantined, the A’s need another starter and Bassitt’s at the top of the list.
There’s a catch, however, just like it seems there is with every storyline in baseball in 2020. He says he came to camp behind the other pitchers. When Frankie Montas told him the other day the was ready to pitch five innings, Bassitt could only shake his head.
“I was throwing a lot, but for me it was long toss, throwing in the realm of around the house,” Bassitt said. “I’m definitely in really good shape but I mean guys where thrown in workouts and games, and I just didn’t have the people around where I live.
“So, you can see some guys around the league throwing like five or six innings already. I threw two innings (Tuesday), and I literally could not throw six. There’s no way. I can’t go five like Frankie right now.”
Bassitt, who says he should be ready to throw five or more come opening day, will throw to hitters again Thursday. It’s a mixed blessing, because he finds himself holding back. The thought that he’d throw inside and maybe hit one of his teammates makes him wince.
“it’s fun, definitely, facing live hitter who are your friends,” he said. “It adds a little bit of extra motivation to it. By when I’m facing (Chad) Pinder or (Ryan) Goins or (Stephen) Piscotty … I don’t want those guys to get hits. But there’s a Catch-22 because I basically don’t want to throw inside where we would have a freak injury happen. That aspect is kind of weird.”
Bassitt, who borrowed reliever Yusmeiro Petit’s workout routine for the downtime, likes the shape he’s in save for the fact that he’s lost 10 pounds in the time of quarantine when everybody else was putting on weight.
“It’s not because I wanted to,” he said. “When you have a little baby and a lot of yard work, you tend to stay busy.”
Manager Bob Melvin said it's "a huge benefit" to have someone like Bassitt.
"It can be tough to embrace that role, but he's done it," Melvin said Wenesday. "He's open to anything. He's taking that mindset (of being a starter). It's easier to build up (innings) and then work backward if you need to."
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Inside the Athletics on SI. Access and comment on featured stories, start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.