CHICAGO – Forget about those halcyon first few days of spring training, when arranging for the right tee time on the right golf course is often more challenging than the work on the field.
When major leaguers report next week for spring training 2.0 — or perhaps more accurately, baseball's first summer camp — time will be one precious commodity with about three weeks to go before opening day.
“We're going to have some live batting practices the first day they show up. Day 1 and Day 2. ... Multiple ups for the starters," Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said Friday on a video conference call. “These guys are prepared for that. They've been hungry for it.”
All across the majors, the race is on to set up travel plans and work out the final details for training ahead of an unforgiving season of just 60 games. After intake coronavirus tests and a mandatory quarantine period while awaiting results, full-squad workouts likely will begin next weekend.
The regular season starts July 23 and 24, leaving a short period for players to prepare and a tricky balance for managers trying to get their teams ready while also worrying about potential health issues that could pop up with more frequency during a truncated training period.
“I think that the biggest issue is going to be just the buildup,” White Sox catcher James McCann said. "I honestly think that everyone’s done everything they possibly can to stay in shape, from pitchers throwing and hitters hitting. But there’s only so many swings in a cage and so many, you know, non-adrenaline bullpens you can throw.
“There’s a reason why we have six weeks of spring training, in a typical spring training.”
There is particular concern for starting pitchers, who take great care in building up their arms over an extended period. That's one reason why active rosters will be 30 players during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that.