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‘Big-picture, we put baseball second,’ says Derek Falvey, after Twins allow players to head home

It all happened so quickly for the pro baseball teams, too.

One day the Twins were a good-looking ball club tracking toward a March 26 opening day in Northern California. By the end of the week, all but about 20 players were clearing out of their Fort Myers complex, scattering for home amid the uncertainty of the spreading cononavirus.

Saturday the Twins leadership met with Taylor Rogers, the team’s union representative, and collectively they decided that it was best to send everyone packing. At least, everyone who could safely return home. There is no known return date as yet.

“I can think back — it didn’t seem like it was that long ago we were talking about players not signing autographs,” said Twins president of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey. “And now we’re here today.”

“So I think that happened very quickly for everybody. … Once we got a sense that [sending players home] was going to be the ultimate outcome, we just wanted to talk as much as we could about what was the best thing and communicate to our players and start down that path as quickly as possible.”

As recently as a couple days ago, there was some belief that players would remain in camps, keeping in shape and biding their time for baseball to return. Now they’ve dispersed and it doesn’t sound like anyone knows when exactly they’ll be back. If it stretches far enough, Falvey said, it would undoubtedly require a ramp-up period before launching into regular season games. Whether that’s in Minnesota or Florida remains to be seen, and so does the date for the return, for that matter.

Roughly 20 players will remain at the team’s minor league academy in Fort Myers, which shares a  gravel-and-grass parking lot with Hammond Stadium. Players might still be reassigned to minor leagues rosters, as they would at this point on the calendar during an ordinary spring training. Otherwise, Falvey said that when it comes to roster rules, consider this a frozen period. If you were in Twins camp without a roster spot and had an opt-out date in your contract, that could well be frozen, too. Although all teams would be waiting for some guidance from Major League Baseball on how to treat roster decisions like that.

The Twins were listening to recommendations, Falvey said, from MLB and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they decided it was best to shut down camp. They were advised that they should allow their players to return home, head to Minnesota, or stay put in Fort Myers.

During a Saturday meeting, Falvey, Rogers and manager Rocco Baldelli talked over their options and the preferences of players. Falvey said: “We shared what was urged [by MLB], which was get guys to whatever location they felt most comfortable.”

“Big-picture here, we put baseball second,” Falvey said. “[The best plan] was that guys get to a place where they felt comfortable being for an extended period of time, given that we don’t know exactly how long this is going to take.”

Baseball-wise, the coaches and support staff have shared individual plans for players to follow. And the team’s leadership has ways of quickly communicating with anyone on the team, Falvey said, to keep everyone updated when that’s needed. He said that they’ll check in fairly regularly over the next week.

As for when they’ll be back, it’s hard to say. Falvey says that the Twins will follow MLB’s guidance.

On hold: Majority of Twins players headed home from spring training





twins

Previous Story On hold: Majority of Twins players headed home from spring training Next Story Baseball on hold means plenty of unanswered questions; MLB opener pushed back again