Spring approached, and as we looked back at the grind of a strong and productive offseason, our expectations never changed.
What were those expectations, you may ask? Be ready to go on Feb. 1, 2020, for early camp. The importance of being early in professional baseball is more important than many may think.
Then, fast-forward to March 13 — and it was all over. Some hasty meetings about something called “COVID-19,” and spring training was shut down.
Of course, over the course of camp, the news began to spread about the effects of COVID-19. As players, we continued to stay into our routine in the weight room, and on the field. I believe the day before we were sent home — our the last day on the field — we never actually made it out to the field (although Bennett Sousa and I had a hell of a throwing day).
As players, leading up to that final day we had two ideas about how the pandemic would play out. We might stay put for a few weeks in Arizona, continuing our routine — remember, at the time there were limited cases. On the other hand, we knew that it was a possibility that all staff and players to be sent home, with the resumption of the season unknown.
Unfortunately, that's what happened, and we are all still at home, desperate to play. The hard part of all this is that even if we start a season, without proper attention to detail a player could get the virus, and in a clubhouse of 100-plus players it could spread like wildfire. It's become more important than ever to focus on personal hygiene and proper distancing protocols, to eliminate this virus step by step.
So after spring training was suspended, I flew from Arizona to Chicago to meet up with my girlfriend, and just over that one weekend the spread of the virus intensified by the day.
As I sit and write, it is now mid-April and we would have been a couple of weeks into our baseball season by now. Things turned so quickly.
For starters, of course, this virus has affected so many people. I see the incredible efforts of nurses and doctors, and to them I send out sincere thank-yous.
It's a novel circumstance for me, being back home in Florida and having the opportunity to spend time with family. It feels like a long time since I've been able to do that during March and April, when it’s normally baseball time.
Unlike some of my teammates, being in Florida hasn't hampered my continued preparation for the season at all. We've got a good space here, so social distancing is less of a challenge. With the Florida heat — getting into the 90s already — it's easy to stay disciplined with my conditioning and get a good sweat in.
So, what's life been like in this time of coronavirus? I’ve spent my time keeping busy, working out at home with various gym equipment. Working out five or six days a week has allowed me to place more emphasis on understanding how my body moves and being able to focus on each muscle group while attacking explosive movements.
Mentally, it's been crucial to take this time to be locked in and prepared each day. With baseball being monotonous, we tend to get into our own heads and routines. Being able to take a period of time away and work on our own to attend to our strengths and weaknesses has been a valuable opportunity in this unique time.
And the financial support from the MLB/MLBPA is appreciated. It's good that the major league teams put us on their radar and made it clear they were aware of our potential hardships.
Of course, I'm not happy about the delay of the season. I was ready to go. I spent all offseason preparing for a great 2020, with a high level of confidence. I was already feeling locked in.
It's funny, though, this uncertainty might drive other players a little crazy. But really, it's a lot like the life of a reliever: You have down time, and then when you need to be called on you are more than ready to perform.
In the end, whenever we return I will be more than ready, and we will all be prepared to kick off 2020!
Stay Safe! Andrew Perez