The Boston Red Sox know they must stay prepared.
Because while the coronavirus pandemic has cast uncertainty over the 2020 Major League Baseball season, those players who put aside their work now will find themselves at an extreme disadvantage when play resumes.
This is especially true for pitchers.
“Some guys have access to a throwing partner or a catcher or a mound,” Red Sox pitching coach David Bush explained Tuesday during a conference call, per MassLive.com “I?ve got a couple guys who are stuck at home and can only throw into a net in their driveway or in their basement in some cases.”
It’s unclear when baseball will return and what the overall landscape will look like when it does. As such, Bush refrained from giving Boston’s pitchers a specific throwing program to follow during the sports pause.
Instead, the goal is for most hurlers to be throwing four or five days a week in some capacity, says Bush, and the Red Sox will adjust accordingly as more concrete details emerge regarding the 2020 campaign.
?Sitting on my desk here next to me I?ve got three or four different versions of potential spring training plans based on how much time we have (in spring training),” Bush said, via MassLive. ?After that, a lot of it is thinking about if we have doubleheaders, if we have bigger rosters, how we?re going to get through whatever kind of season we have.”
Each pitcher is different, obviously. This is true of both the resources they have to train and the time required to ramp up before the regular season. But as long as guys stay self-disciplined, throwing several days a week with decent intensity, it shouldn’t be too difficult for everyone to hit the ground running.
So far, Bush believes the Red Sox’s continued preparation is “going smoothly,” all things considered, and that his pitchers are in “a pretty good spot” despite the difficult circumstances.
In fact, the biggest challenge might not involve a throwing program, but rather how Boston constructs its roster to successfully navigate what figures to be a unique schedule.
?Pitchers are not going to be built up the way they normally would whenever we start,” Bush said. “We?re just not going to have enough time. I know that. Everybody else knows that. So it?s how built up can we get them? How ready will they be to pitch at the end of the year? What kind of length can they give? How do we do it while keeping their health in mind? And then thinking about what our options are. Because that?s really what it?s going to come down to.
“How flexible can we be? How creative can we be with the guys we?re allowed to carry? Whether it?s 26 or more, what can I do with those guys to help them be successful and help us be successful.?
A recent report stated the expectation is teams will be able to carry 29 players on their active rosters — instead of 26 — to begin the regular season. This could alleviate some concerns about the schedule, workloads, players’ health and the overall difficulty of adapting on the fly, although it’s incumbent upon Boston’s front office and coaching staff to take full advantage of the additional wiggle room.
?… Thinking about what the options are going to be and that may mean carrying different kind of relievers because we need more length,? Bush said. ?It may mean having an extra starter so we can spread guys out a little bit. There?s a lot of different possibilities. I don?t know what the right one is, but I?m trying to think through the different options so when we are faced with it, we?re ready to have a discussion and make a decision.”
If baseball returns in 2020, the season will be unlike any other. It’s hard to comprehend, with so few answers available, but the organizations that stay prepared now will be better-equipped to handle the conditions.