GLENDALE, Ariz. – Over the last few months, Rick Hahn has stepped onto a conference call with reporters to give good news about a new member of the White Sox that would bolster their chances for success in 2020.
Friday was anything but that, and the tenor of the general manager’s opening statement reflected that.
“Traditionally I think we’ve all viewed sports, and certainly from my perspective baseball, as an important distraction from the real world for people,” said Hahn to reporters on Friday. “Unfortunately at this point, it’s obvious that we’re not immune from this ourselves as an industry.”
That’s as obvious as it’s ever been in Major League Baseball and all across the country, with the spread of COVID-19 leading to unprecedented cancellations and postponements throughout the world of sports.
For Hahn’s White Sox, spring training games are on hold for the moment and the regular season is backed up for at least two weeks. It could very well be longer before things start, especially since Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker has asked teams not to hold games in Chicago until May 1st.
These are decisions that Hahn made clear have his along with the organization’s full supports.
“When you’re talking the interests of the health and safety of fans, and players, staff, and everyone in the community, you really have no choice,” said Hahn.
So like the rest of the league, the White Sox are trying to figure out how to continue preparations for the season while being as safe as possible during the outbreak. The team has decided to keep their facility at Camelback Ranch open this weekend to allow players to get treatment while also taking part in light workouts.
The team will not make any activity mandatory this week, allowing players to leave if they need to return home if they feel it’s necessary. For Hahn, being flexible in these unique times is key to getting through this particular stretch of spring training.
“Although I think we had full participation today, if for whatever reason that changes over the course of tomorrow or Sunday, we certainly understand,” said Hahn. “Unfortunately this is one of the rare occurrences where it’s larger than baseball, the issues we’re dealing with.
“Therefore, we’re gonna continue to be flexible.”
So what’s the goal for the team with so much still unknown about the start of the season? Maintaining the progress of the players that they’d made before the pandemic is the goal for Hahn, but like everything else, that’s flexible too.
“The next couple of days will likely be limited to cage work, pitchers throwing off the mound, and possibly some light drills on the field,” said Hahn. “Again, for the next couple of days, it’s more about maintaining where players are as opposed to progressing towards the opener.”
When that will be is anyone’s guess in a most unusual time for the sports world and society as a whole.