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MLB Network Host, Houston native Robert Flores weighs in on 2020 MLB season

He also said there are two players to keep an eye on in Houston

HOUSTON – It’s probably not a surprise that MLB Network Host Robert Flores is excited for baseball to return.

“RoFlo” sat down with KPRC 2’s Vanessa Richardson while he was home visiting family. Flores said baseball’s return could lift the country’s spirits during such a strange time.

“I think it’s welcomed,” said Flores, a Dobie High School and University of Houston graduate. “To everyone’s credit; the players, the owners, the league, they’ve done everything they can to put this together, because this is going to be something we’ve never seen and it’s an undertaking I don’t think we can quite fathom.”

On the revamped opponent schedule emphasizing regions and divisions

I kind of always felt like the Astros and the Rangers bring in the American League West was a little bit weird, even under normal circumstances,” said Flores. “But, listen, it’s 60 games,” said Flores, emphasizing the importance of a quick start. “It is going to be a sprint. If you have a 3 and 7 stretch or you lose 8 of 12, that could knock you out.”

After a turbulent off-season... did the delay help the Astros?

Yeah, it kind of did,” said Flores. “It doesn’t appear that there are going to be fans at the stadium. They were going to experience a criticism and a vitriol like no other team has faced... now, that’s not going to be in the cards.”

Although the sign-stealing scandal is still relevant to a lot of people, when examining the state of the world during COVID-19, the Houston native says it loses some of its importance.

“We live in a different world now,” said Flores. “What happened in 2017 and the sign-stealing scandal and the investigation... that seems to me to be way down the list of things that we should be concerned with. We want to make sure that everyone is healthy, that we have a successful season under unusual circumstances.”

The players who could make the biggest difference for the Astros in 2020 are...?

The biggest questions for the Astros before things got shut down was the depth of the pitching staff, the bullpen, and things like that,” said Flores.

“So it’s two guys for me: Lance McCullers Jr, who’s coming off of Tommy John surgery,” said Flores.”He looks fantastic, I’ve talked to him, I know he’s excited and he’s ready to go. He was going to have to be under an innings restriction coming off of Tommy John, but in a 60 game season, that doesn’t become quite as important,” explained Flores.

“The other guy is Forrest Whitley, he’s in their player pool and he’s a highly touted prospect. He’s had bumps in the road on the way to the major leagues, but they would love for him to have a huge impact.”

With the season being so short and some players not participating, will there be an asterisk next to this world series?

It’s a question that’s emerged time and time again, especially for the NBA’s shortened season. Flores thinks even if the legitimacy of the 2020 World Series winner is questioned, that won’t make the players want to compete for it any less.

This year is different, who know’s if there’s going to be fans here,” said Flores. “But if you ask every one of these big leaguers, ‘hey, if you win this thing, are you going to feel weird about it, are you going to feel bad about it?' They’re going to tell you ‘No, because we were all playing under the same conditions, and we were the best team.‘”

If baseball can pull off a successful and safe return, what will that do for the trajectory of other sports?

Fans may not be allowed in stadiums, but Flores feels the return of the MLB, if done safely and correctly, could be monumental.

“It could be immense and it could be really positive,” said Flores, who also acknowledged that there are many moving parts and the return will be difficult.

“If it goes off well, I just think it can help not only the game of baseball but sports in general, the country, the whole thing.”

Catch Robert Flores on MLB Network’s “MLB Central,” which will return to air the week the 60 game season begins.