The Yankees are hanging on by a whisper in trying to keep camp open in Tampa. But the state of Florida, by necessity, has other ideas. What now?
The Yankees will soon be persona non grata in the State of Florida, a victim of what all states are doing to meet the coronavirus head-on.
The team’s Spring Training complex in Tampa has been able to keep its gates open to players who wished to be there with a watered-down staff on hand.
But it appears Florida officials will soon enact a stay-at-home policy that will shut the complex down until future notice, leaving the Yankees with no direction home.
Yankees All Dressed Up With No Place To Go
For each, what happens next is a crucial time for the Yankees players, each of whom has a personal reason for not being home now.
Judge, Stanton, and Severino are still in Tampa to further their rehab under the direction of the Yankees medical staff.
Le Mahieu is a self-described baseball rat and he kiddingly (we hope) indicated he needs to maintain his “sanity” in Tampa, as opposed to returning to his home in Michigan.
Similarly, Tyler Wade has made it sound as if he wasn’t here (Tampa), where else would I be? And besides, he says, “Coming in here I almost feel this is the safest place to be.” (New York Post)
And maybe no other Yankees player has more riding on his performance and effort this Spring than Clint Frazier.
A re-born man of sorts who is bent on re-setting the clock to erase the past mistakes he’s made, Frazier may be the most vulnerable of the Yankees who are “set-free” when Steinbrenner Field closes down.
Yankees: Reality Sets In
But for Aaron Boone and to a lesser extent Brian Cashman, once there is no Yankees presence in Tampa – there is no “Yankees”.
Instead, there are 40 players on the Yankees roster, 26 of whom would typically be preparing for Opening Day next Thursday in Baltimore.
Anticipating the challenges that lay ahead, Boone has issued a “Stay Strong Together” message to his players. It includes an upbeat video that can be seen here.
Most Yankees will handle this in the same way they always conduct themselves. Gerrit Cole is just fine staying loose and having some fun with his wife, Amy, in their backyard.
Gerrit & Amy Cole 🔥🔥🔥
( via IG/@ amyc23 ) pic.twitter.com/sMtqbvie46
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 22, 2020
Yankees, Yankees – Where Art Thou?
But if you asked Boone or Brian Cashman if they can contact each of their roster players – say within the next eight hours – can they do it.
Where, for example, is Gary Sanchez? Has he returned to his home country in the Dominican Republic – in the face of travel restrictions imposed by the United States?
A closer look at the Yankees roster reveals more players than you might think who were born and have roots in countries other than the United States.
And in a time of crisis where a player’s family back home might trump his team (Yankees), no one wants to go there.
Up and down the line, Luis Cessa (Cordoba, Mexico), Aroldis Chapman (Cuba), Deivi Garcia (Dominican Republic), Jonathan Loaisigia (Managua, Nicaragua), Luis Severino (Dominican Republic), and Masahiro Tanaka (Hyogo, Japan) all (conceivably) be in their native countries now, or on their way soon.
The Yankees will figure this out, and there’s no need to sound the “barn’s on fire” alarm.
Two points emerge, however, that bear the attention of the Yankees and especially Brian Cashman.
First, the 2020 season is already in flux, and when the all-clear is ultimately sounded, TV Networks and owners will be pushing to start the season yesterday.
The Player’s Association will successfully fight back to arrange a time for a modified spring training – but the Yankees will need to be able to reassemble the ranks within days to meet the time crunch to get ready.
In between, the only thing I’m asking is this, and it’s only as an example.
Wherever Gary Sanchez is now, is he working on perfecting the new stance Tanner Swanson, the Yankees catching instructor stolen form the Minnesota Twins, has been preaching?
Or, is Sanchez still relaxed in the feeling he expressed in this Newsday article that it’s still a “work in progress”. Which is fine if progress is even being made – but who’s to know?
Are The Yankees Essential Workers?
Returning to the central theme, is it possible the Yankees can make the plea to the state of Florida they are “essential” workers and therefore they should be exempt from the stay at home order when it comes down?
Essential in a sense, the Yankees provide a substantial annual bonus to the economy of Florida during Spring Training as thousands travel south to visit during regular times.
And after all, who wants to risk DJ LeMahieu losing his sanity and Tyler Wade having to move to an unsafe place?