Major league teams try to ramp up the competition in camp

Sports

Well-traveled Milwaukee Brewers first baseman-outfielder Logan Morrison figures it will be easy for him to adjust to games without spectators this season.

“I played for the Rays and the Marlins, so I’m used to it,” Morrison said.

The Brewers and other major league teams worked out again Monday in mostly empty ballparks, mindful the long-awaited start to the season is barely a week away and fans won’t be coming. So teams are trying as best they can to ramp up the competitiveness of summer camps conducted in isolation.

Several teams announced upcoming exhibition games, including Houston at Kansas City, Kansas City at St. Louis, and Cleveland against Pittsburgh.

The Brewers will play intrasquad games for several nights starting Tuesday and are dubbing them the Blue and Gold World Series, a nod to manager Craig Counsell’s alma mater, Notre Dame. Catcher Omar Narvaez and outfielder Avisail Garcia will draft teams for matchups designed to approximate the intensity of regular-season games.

“It’s important for the players to understand the dial can’t go from one to 10, from camp to opening day,” Counsell said. “That’s an important part of how we’re trying to prepare them.”

The virus continued to complicate preparations. St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks opted out of playing this season, citing underlying health concerns. He was diagnosed in high school with Type 1 diabetes.

Manager David Ross and five other undisclosed tier one individuals sat out a Chicago Cubs workout as a precaution while awaiting virus test results. Tier one includes players, coaches, physicians and others.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras complimented the protective measures being taken by the team and MLB.

“I don’t think that I’m at risk inside the ballpark,” Contreras said. “Walking the streets, that’s the one place that I don’t feel safe.”

Los Angeles Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval rejoined the team after contracting the virus last month. The Minnesota Twins said first baseman Miguel Sanó and backup catcher Willians Astudillo, who tested positive when they arrived at camp, have been eager to return.

“Those guys are itching to get back,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “They make the phone call every day after they get a new test, and they want to know, ‘Is it negative yet? Can I come back?’ And that’s been a little challenging and frustrating for them.”

In Miami, perhaps the pandemic’s epicenter, the Marlins hope their players can minimize the risk away from the ballpark by wearing masks and avoiding crowds.

“We’ve made it really clear to our guys how important it is, not only for themselves but the organization, their teammates, their teammates’ families,” manager Don Mattingly said. “For me, every individual in the South Florida area should have the same mindset. It’s a serious situation. We’re taking it seriously.”

The virus is a wild card in trying to plan the roster, Mattingly said.

“This situation is different from anything we’ve gone through,” he said. “Two days from now, you don’t know what happens to your club. You have to continue to be flexible in your thinking and your options. We’re trying to get everybody ready, so everybody who is here is an option.”

The Washington Nationals placed pitchers Wander Suero and Roenis Elias on the injured list. No reasons were given.

SIDELINED

Baltimore Orioles left-hander Ty Blach will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, and shortstop Richie Martin will have an operation on his right wrist that will sideline him for two to three months.

Each procedure is scheduled for Wednesday.

“It’s awful for both of them,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Blach went 1-3 in five starts with the Orioles last year after spending three-plus seasons with the Giants.

POSTPONED

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been postponed because of the virus. This year’s class of Bill White, John Tudor and Tommy Herr will be enshrined along with next year’s class on August 21, 2021.

REMEMBERED

The Toronto Blue Jays will honor the late Tony Fernandez by wearing a patch with his No. 1 on the left sleeve of their jerseys.

Fernandez is the Blue Jays’ career leader in games (1,450), hits (1,583) and triples (72). He spent 12 seasons with Toronto in four stints and had a .288 batting average and 2,276 hits over 17 big league seasons. Fernandez also played for San Diego, the Mets and Yankees, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

Fernandez had nine RBIs in Toronto’s six-game win over Philadelphia in the 1993 World Series. He had kidney problems and died Feb. 16 at age 57.

___

AP Sports Writers Greg Beacham, Dave Campbell, Jay Cohen, David Ginsburg, Steve Megargee and Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Steve_Wine

Please follow and like us: