'We'll Make Do'; Rangers' Chris Woodward Addresses Scenarios in Preparation for the MLB Season
ARLINGTON, Texas – The thought on the minds of many baseball fans is when this coronavirus crisis will allow the season to finally get underway. This past Thursday was the originally scheduled Opening Day, and it only made fans yearn for baseball in their lives all the more.
However, it's not so easy to think about baseball in times like these. We're dealing with a pandemic that has to be contained so we can go back to normalcy in our lives in the right way. In the meantime, MLB, its clubs, and the players union are still doing what's necessary to prepare for when MLB gets the "all clear" from government and public health experts.
On Friday, MLB and the players union ratified an agreement that took care of some key economic issues, including player salaries and service time. Many other details still have to be worked out, but it's not easy when dealing with a situation as fluid as this one.
A pretty common best-case scenario among those in the baseball world are hoping for baseball activity to resume in mid- to late-May, hoping for the regular season to start in early- to mid-June. An obvious worst-case or doomsday scenario is the entire season is canceled. Nobody wants this and everyone in MLB and the players union will work to salvage the season. Yet, it could be out of their hands.
As teams, managers, and players prepare for the great unknown of when the season might actually get underway, Rangers manager Chris Woodward understands that teams might not get exactly what they want when trying to prepare for the regular season. Teams want the most amount of time to prepare for the regular season, but time might not be a luxury for MLB or its teams.
"We'll make do with whatever they give us," Woodward said via conference call earlier this week. "If we get a week, if we get two, three, or four – whatever it is, we'll make do. If that means we have to hold guys back because they're not ready, then we'll have to do that."
In the best-case scenario, MLB would be able to afford team about four weeks to have an abbreviated second spring training. That would help in a big way of getting players ready, giving them time to get built back up for the grind of even a shortened regular season.
Yet, if MLB is forced to start the season as late as July, they may not be afforded the opportunity to give teams a lengthy time of preparation. Chris Woodward wasn't concerned about what that situation may look like.
"I'm sure MLB will notice that and they'll probably allow us extra players," Woodward said. "They'll figure out a way to keep guys from getting injured or putting people at risk. I'm not worried about that. We'll make do with whatever they give us."
On Friday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that teams expect MLB to allow them to expand active rosters from 26 to 29 players for the first month of the season. The expanded roster obviously gives clubs more time to get their starting pitchers built up, even if teams have to do so at the beginning of the season.
Depending on how shortened the season gets, the likelihood of scheduled doubleheaders is a very real possibility. This gives teams and players even more reason to campaign for expanded rosters beyond just a month.
Then, we are looking at a shortened offseason as well. If the regular season gets played, the postseason will likely go deep into November, which is usually the time where major free agents begin being courted by teams. The MLB offseason is packed with many deadlines and events, all of which would have to be pushed closer together in an abbreviated fashion.
In an unprecedented time like this, it seems like both sides are willing to do whatever they can to get a season in. They, along with the rest of the world, want things to get back to normal. Even if it means sacrificing some luxuries that usually go without a thought.
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