With Opening Day pushed back eight-plus weeks and unwavering concerns of the novel coronavirus pandemic casting a shadow over Major League Baseball, players have been presented with a challenging choice.
Should they return to their personal homes or stick around at Spring Training complexes to continue working out and utilizing top-notch facilities and equipment?
Some Yankees players and coaches have already made their decision. Skipper Aaron Boone pulled out of the Bombers' spring facility on Tuesday, notifying reporters that he was set to begin his drive back to the tri-state area. Outfielder Mike Tauchman was among those that exited the players' parking lot at George M. Steinbrenner Field for the final time this spring as well.
Other members of the Yankees family are staying put – for now, that is. J.A. Happ, who lives in nearby Clearwater, Fla., aims to continue training at the Yankees' facility. New York's general manager Brian Cashman told reporters he has no intentions of leaving any time soon.
One common variable for all those individuals, however, is that returning home would mean traveling domestically. It may take some time, but Boone can drive back up north. Other players have evidently begun dispersing across the country.
But what about the members of the Yankees' family that reside abroad?
17 players on the Yankees' current 40-man roster are from outside of the continental United States ranging from Canada to Cuba. You can add one more name to that group – right-hander Domingo Germán – who is on a restricted list as he serves the remainder of his suspension for violating the league's domestic violence policy.
That number grows even more when factoring in the Minor League players within the Bombers' organization that came to Tampa for Spring Training.
At the moment, Yankees' Minor Leaguers don't even have an option to return home after two players from New York's Player Development complex tested positive for COVID-19 in the last several days. All Yankees Minor Leaguers have since been placed in self-quarantine for the next two weeks and are being delivered food by the organization to their hotel rooms.
One instance of a big-league player traveling back to his home country is right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga. After a fabulous spring on the mound, Loaisiga has already returned to his native Nicaragua.
On Tuesday night, New York's former No. 1 pitching prospect was dining at his parents' home in Managua (per Levi Luna of TN8 Nicaragua).
After his sparkling performance this spring – posting a sub-three ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10 Grapefruit League innings – Loaisiga is a front-runner to earn the Yankees' vacant fifth rotation spot. He even debuting a new pitch. Nonetheless, with no definitive start date to the season on the horizon, heading home was the best option for him.
He returned home with a training program given by his Yankees' coaches to stay in shape and keep his arm ready.
Another candidate to appear in the Yankees' rotation this year – right-hander Deivi Garcia – is in the process of making a similar call.
The 20-year-old highly-touted pitching prospect caught up with reporters outside George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday, explaining that he has yet to decide if he will travel back to the Dominican Republic. Uncertainty is impacting everyone at the Yankees' complex, regardless of where they call home.
Of those that are still around, Luis Severino was among players present for an informal workout on Wednesday morning. Miguel Andújar, taking no chances of catching the coronavirus, was spotted with a balaclava as a makeshift protective mask.
Both Severino and Andújar are from the Dominican Republic as well. Regardless of where Severino spends the spring, however, he'll be sidelined for the 2020 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Andújar, meanwhile, was poised for a bounce-back campaign this year – featuring defensive versatility – after missing much of last season due to injury.
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