San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller knows this Major League Baseball season will be different.
“Everybody in baseball is always talking about the season being a marathon, not a sprint, this is definitely going to be a sprint.”
That 60-game sprint, instead of the regular season 162-game marathon, will amplify every decision the Padres make on and off the field.
“Extremely unique year, it will factor into our decisions, both roster wise and also strategically, how we play certain games, it’s going to be a different type of set up for everybody.”
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Speaking in Monday afternoon virtual press conference, Preller said the number one factor in this abbreviated season is player health.
“If a player goes down or has to go on the COVID related injury list, you know in some years you go on the disabled list and that’s a small portion of your season, this year whether it is due to COVID or injuries, if you go down to the disabled list that could be your season basically," Preller explained.
With regards to health and COVID-19, Preller said at this point no Padre players or coaches have decided to opt-out of the season due to pre-existing conditions or health risks, nor are there currently any positive COVID-19 test results among Padre players.
“I think as an organization we’ve stayed lucky in that regard," the GM said. "There hasn’t been anything new that’s come up in the last few months that would eliminate anybody starting at the beginning of spring training."
Major League Baseball has created a 100+ page health and safety document, banning in-game traditions like spitting and sunflower seeds, even going so far as to prohibit players from taking public transportation to games and encouraging them to stay on the first floor of hotels when traveling, so as to avoid elevators.
“Obviously, the compliance component, trying to make sure everybody understands the importance of following the rules to limit your exposure and risk," Preller said. "There should be a lot of motivation from everybody’s standpoint to follow rules and regulations; it helps the group stay healthy and you have a responsibility to the person next to you. It’s a new way of life.”
A new way of life and a new way of baseball.
Some critics say the 60-game season and all the changes that come with it will make the 2020 season tainted.
Here’s what Preller things about that:
“I think in terms of asterisk or no asterisk, I think we’ll get to the end of this and everybody can make their own determination how real it was for them, how real it felt but what we’re looking at, with the Padres, is, it's competitive baseball. And you crown a champion at end of the year, and it’s a championship that was won playing against the best of the best in Major League Baseball, even it was for 60 games rather than 162.”