CHICAGO- One of the great cliches of sports is to focus on oneself or a team. The thought is not to let distractions from the outside ruin the progress of what’s going on inside a franchise.
But 2020, like just about everything, makes things quite different.
A number of major players, including Dodgers pitcher David Price, continue to opt out of the season, choosing to sit it out for health or family reasons. On Monday, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis decided to opt out as well.
Don’t think the Cubs aren’t seeing that.
“Everybody definitely has their radar up and wants to know we’re doing everything possible,” said Cubs manager David Ross when it comes to COVID-19 risks. “But everybody has a little bit of pause as you come to the park and what’s each day going to be like. We’ve even have guys asking, like, when’s the next test.”
Those will exist from the moment the team took their intake tests until the final out is made, whether in September or October. The pandemic is likely to continue through the season, requiring incredible diligence by teams and players towards safety protocols.
No high fives or hugs, with masks being the norm both on and off the field is necessary to get games in during a shortened 2020 season. Failure to adhere to that could mean this campaign doesn’t finish, and frankly, there are things out of team’s control that could do the same.
But for the moment, Ross is pleased with just how serious his team is taking the precautions as they continue summer camp at Wrigley Field.
“Our guys are extremely bought in,” said Ross of the Cubs when it comes to following safety protocols. “Guys are wearing their masks. They’re doing a great job, even in the parking lot, when we’re still outside, guys are getting to the ballpark, masks are on, washing their hands.”
All of these things are a part of the “normal” day for the Cubs in 2020, doing what they can to stay in shape and prepare for a sprint of a season.
“Just get acclimated on what we’re going to have to deal with on a daily basis,” said outfielder Jason Heyward on the first weekend of summer camp.. “Walking in, figuring out where you’re going to eat, all that stuff. On the baseball and physical activity side, just getting our stamina back. We’re all been working out; super impressed, proud of the way our guys have stayed in shape.
“But we all know that it is what it is when it comes down to taking five rounds, six rounds of BP on the field. When you talk about taking infield, outfield, things like that. All around, it’s a mindset, we have to keep an open mind.”
While also being mindful of what’s happening outside of Wrigley Field during an unusual 2020 season.