Jake Arrieta took the ball for the Phillies team in pinstripes in a Saturday afternoon scrimmage. It was a clean outing for the 34-year-old, who induced four-consecutive ground-ball outs to begin the game. In a post-outing Zoom meeting with reporters, Arrieta, who is coming off a year in which he missed a significant amount of time with bone spurs in his right elbow, said he felt great.
“Today was very nice,” Arrieta said. “Very good with my sinkers early in the count. Threw some great cutters. I was behind the ball really well.”
During quarantine, Arrieta said he stayed ready by partaking in a throwing program in Texas three or four times a week and facing live hitters at least once a week.
Interestingly enough, the veteran pitcher was asked if he thinks Major League Baseball can pull off a 60-game season. While many around the league are unsure of just how feasible the return to play plan really is, Arrieta provided a resounding vote of confidence.
“I don’t see any reason why we won’t be able to execute a full season,” Arrieta said. “Obviously, travel will present a new set of challenges for us, but the protocol and safety guidelines we’ve been following since we’ve been in Philadelphia have been pretty strict. And for good reason. Our testing protocols seem to be very effective.
“We have to take it upon ourselves to be as safe as we can, especially when we’re away from the field, but I do feel like the organization has done a really good job of maintaining the safety of all of our players and our staff and everybody surrounding our team. I feel like if we’re able to continue this protocol and limit our interactions with people away from the field, I don’t see a reason why we can’t successfully play the 2020 season.”
Arrieta also mentioned how he believes baseball has an advantage over other sports when it comes to playing during the pandemic. The rules of baseball do not require as much close contact among players as other sports such as basketball and football and that could be to MLB’s advantage.
“I think that’s something on our side that will help limit the close interactions with other guys around baseball.”
Throughout the first week of camp, several teams, including the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics, had to cancel workouts because of testing delays. Just today, the Houston Astros canceled workouts after learning a staff member may have been in close contact with someone who has the coronavirus. Royals catcher Cam Gallagher tested positive for the virus today and participated in an intrasquad game on Friday.
The challenges revolving around successfully completing the 2020 season are immense. They have been evident around the league throughout the first week of camp. Arrieta’s outlook on the situation is positive and is most likely a reflection of how well the organization is executing the league’s safety protocols.
Girardi echoed something similar to what Arrieta had said a day before camp began.
“I think we can do it,” Girardi said. “Do I think there will be players who get COVID-19? Absolutely. I think with the protocols that MLB has with the testing of players, the protocols you have to do before coming to the ballpark, the protocols you have to do while you’re at the ballpark, the contact tracing that we do. I think that we will have cases but hopefully, they will be really containable and that we can pull this off.”
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