DENVER – Two months.
It is not a long time, but feels like a lifetime ago for Rockies manager Bud Black. With the coronavirus gripping the world, spring training shut down in mid-March. Now, hope continues to percolate that baseball will resume.
Black remains eager, admitting he has cleaned his garage 37 times, polished his landscaping skills and become a better BBQ’er.
“I have been doing a lot of the same things everybody else is doing. A lot of at home time,” Black said in an exclusive interview with Denver7 Sports Director Lionel Bienvenu on Wednesday. “I have become pretty proficient at Zoom, not quite an expert. … What I have sensed lately is that the players are ready. Enough with the Zoom calls. I sense we are tired of touching base. We are ready to go.”
Black is following the news closely regarding baseball coming back. The owners and players association held talks recently about safety protocols, but must iron out differences over how the players will be paid. The players agreed to pro-rated contracts on March 26, but MLB has said, per the New York Post, that the salaries must be reconsidered if fans are not allowed to attend games.
The latest buzz centers on spring training restarting in early June with games beginning around the first week of July. Black believes a three-week run up will suffice as preparation and remains optimistic there will be baseball this summer.
“I do think we are going to play. I think there’s too much desire from ownership, the commissioner’s office and the players. I do think that a deal will get hammered out,” Black said. “In any sort of negotiation, there’s always two sides to every story. But, I do think that things will work out well. … I wish I could give you a date.”
If baseball returns, it will look different. When MLB’s 67-page safety health and safety protocol was revealed last week, it was applauded for its attention to detail, but not viewed as sustainable. No spitting, no high fives and handshakes, players arriving at the ballpark in full uniform, no sunflower seeds – those are just some of the proposed rules.
“Well, I also expect there will be some amendments to that,” Black said. “A lot of those are in place for great safety to cover every base imaginable. Some of those things are unrealistic. It’s going to be tough to ask a player not to spit. Or seating charts. That’s one of things I have seen. Having players sit in the front row of the stands for social distancing (to have fewer in the dugout). We will do whatever it takes to play in the short-term. I think some of these restrictions and protocols might be loosened a little bit when they see the reality of it.”