Reports have surfaced that Cactus League officials in Arizona asked Major League Baseball to delay the start of Spring Training.
The request from the Cactus League comes while COVID-19 cases remain present at a high level in Maricopa County. Spring Training is set to begin on February 27th with players reporting to camp in early- to mid-February.
When COVID-19 initially struck the baseball world, teams were in the middle of Spring Training. Team facilities closed to the public ensure optimal safety while still giving players the resources to work on their craft. Now, the thought of delaying the start of what most players consider a tune-up period could have lasting effects on not only individuals but teams as a whole.
For a team like the White Sox, the 2021 season can’t come soon enough. Shortstop Tim Anderson recently talked about how the club hasn’t forgotten what losing to the Oakland Athletics felt like. He explained that the group that will be heading into this upcoming campaign focused on the ultimate goal. The question is, will a delayed start to Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona dwindle the energy that the Sox have? There is so much talk about momentum in sports and right now it seems that the White Sox have some emotional momentum behind them, but how long can that last without on-field action?
Another aspect of the delay is one that is quite obvious; how will players get their workouts in if they don’t have access to these facilities? Fans heard about last year’s wacky routines, such as former White Sox reliever Steve Cishek throwing in alleyways and throwing into nets. Some players even threw at mattresses in their hotel rooms. Teams would have to trust that their players are continuing their training regiments and doing what they can to maintain a ready-to-go status. Depending on the player, different tools are at their disposal, but the point is, not every player would have the same resources at hand.
For the Rick Hahn optimists out there, a delay in Spring Training may allow a little more time for the White Sox front office to acquire more pieces to bolster the roster. Too much depth is never a bad thing, so perhaps the extra time would allow another free agent to land on the South Side. Franchises and players are still seeing the effects of the shortened 2020 season and will likely deal with such alterations for years to come. So, at this point, any delays in signings or contract negotiations seem normal. Either way, there could be a chance for Hahn and co. to use this potential delay as a tool for negotiations.
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