Rockies Looking Forward to Start of Preseason Training -- Hopefully
The Rockies will welcome the 52 players on their "summer camp" roster to town on Wednesday, where they will undergo two days of testing to see if any of them are COVID-19 positive. Theyn, they can open workouts at Coors Field, with an overflow option at Metropolitan State University.
They could add two of three exhibition games in final preparation for a 60-game regular season season begins on either July 23 or 24.
Meanwhile, they will be making preparations for a satellite camp at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, the regular-season home for the Rockies Triple-A affiliate that will serve as the home of the players who don't make the Rockies regular-season roster, and who will work to stay in shape in case a need opens with the big-league team.
"We are almost literally in a day-to-day operation right now," general manager Jeff Bridich said during a Zoom call with the media featuring himself and manager Bud Black. "There are details about what we are trying to do that are changing daily. To predict or try to predict how this is going to go and how our players are going to respond to the time off. ... and where this virus is going to lead us, we don't know. ...
"I don't think we are ready to come out and say what our expectations are because we aren't quite there yet. ... It's going to be really important to us as an entire group to maintain flexibility, "
It's a new world for the game of baseball -- sort of.
Major League Baseball had a three-week spring training before -- in 1995, Black's final season as a big-league pitcher.
An elongated strike wiped out the final seven weeks of the 1994 season, forced cancellation of the post-season, and was not settled until the first days of April. That resulted in the abbreviated training camp in advance of what became a 144-game regular season.
"There are some similarities." said Black. "Those of us who were going through `95, we were staying in shape. The pitchers were throwing. The position players were in batting cages, and were taking ground balls. Our guys, we believe are physically in a good spot. The little difference is we played exhibition games in `95.
"This year it might be a little tricky. We might not play spring training exhibition games or if we do it will just be a few. That will be a little different. What I do know is the guys are going to come in. They are going to be excited. They are going to be ready. There will be a good feel to the group. The dialogue I have been hearing is similar to the dialogue I was hearing in `95. The players are going to come in excited. The coaches and I will handle that. They have to temper down on the physical part."
Black said the shortened spring is something all 30 teams will face so it shouldn't be a factor during the regular season.
And he is going into the season -- if its played -- fully expecting the Rockies to return to the post-season for the third time in four years, making up for the disappointment of their failure to advance to October a year ago.
"I like our team," he said. "I think we have a good team. I think we can be good in 60 games. I think we can be good in 162 games. This year it is going to be 60 so I think we are going to be good. I think we have a good group of pitchers. I think we have outstanding position players. I think we are well-rounded.
"I think we are in position to play with anybody for 60 games or for 162."
And to play, Black said, will have an impact extending beyond the Rockies and the 29 other big-league clubs.
"I think it would be great for the country for us to play," Black said. "To be able to turn on a ballgame during the summer is something that generations have done and it has been taken away by the virus. I think it would be uplifting.
"If we can get through this it starts the healing process from the pandemic. If we can get through this and we can play and things continue to progress in a positive way on the virus it will be a great thing for the country."
It's a challenge the Rockies and other teams are willing to accept -- virus permitting.