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With No Opening Day, A's Manager Bob Melvin Isolates and Waits

Today would have been the Athletics' home opener against the Twins, and Bob Melvin would likely have been at his desk at 6:30 a.m. Instead, he's like everybody else, self-isolating, watching and waiting. He's not telling his players to do anything beyond being safe and healthy.
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It’s March 26. It’s Opening Day. It’s Pandemic Central. It’s a Weird Time.

In a normal age, the Oakland Coliseum would have been packed today. There would have been pregame introductions of both teams along the foul lines. There would have been bands. Maybe there would have been a flyover before the first pitch before the Oakland A’s hosted the Minnesota Twins.

Before all of that, however, Bob Melvin would have been at the Coliseum by about 6:30 a.m. or so.

“I don’t like to be rushed,” the Oakland A’s manager said Thursday from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., just down the road from the A’s Mesa spring training complex. “There’s always preparation. It’s a new team, it’s the first time, you want to try to get all your information together. I try to do work on my (lineup) card, which is kind of a template for the game.

“There are a lot of distractions during opening day, and I just don’t want to be rushed in getting my preparation done.”

There would have been one or maybe two hard calls for writing out that first lineup card, particularly at second base, where the competition during spring training had not narrowed the field down much. Tony Kemp, Vimael Machin, Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo were still in the running.

And right field would have been an issue with Stephen Piscotty still recovering from an oblique injury. Perhaps Mark Canha would have been asked to move from left to right, opening a start for either Robbie Grossman or Chad Pinder in left.

But now those are questions for another day.

Melvin has no problem that the national response to the pandemic dwarfs the importance of baseball, so much so that he’s uncomfortable with even the suggestion that he or the A’s sketch out planned workouts for his troops while they hunker down.

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There’s not a whole lot he can do.

“Nor should we, really,” Melvin said. “Who are we to tell someone to go out and play catch with somebody else who could be infected? It’s bigger than that right now. I think that guys are taking it on their own to work out. And they should make those decisions for themselves more than we should.

“And hopefully at some point in time, we’ll be making the decisions again.”

Melvin is highly optimistic that baseball will get going, even as he’s willing to wait for the right time for things to pick up again. His team figures to be one of baseball’s best in 2020.

“We feel like we’ve got a good team. I mean, we won 97 games both of the last two years,” Melvin said. “And basically, everybody’s back, to an extent. So, we should think that we have a very good club.

“We’re not really thinking about it that much today. But we were really excited about the season when spring training ended. And when spring training started. And whenever it picks up again, I don’t think our mindset will change.”

Melvin and his wife, Kelley, have their dogs around, as always, and their daughter, Alexi, can work remotely, so she and her cats have made the move to Scottsdale from the Bay Area for the moment.

“We can get out a little bit here where we are,” Melvin said. “We don’t do it en masse or being around other people. We can spend time in the back yard or go for a walk with the dogs, we get out a little.”

And wait for baseball's return.

“At some point in time, we’ll be playing baseball again,” Melvin said, “which is something everybody wants to do.”