SARASOTA, Florida— Chris Davis had left the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota on Thursday afternoon to drive to the team’s scheduled game in Fort Myers against the Minnesota Twins.
Davis was going to be the designated hitter in Thursday night’s game against the Twins, which was scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
Not long after Davis, Richard Bleier and Anthony Santander left in their own cars for the game, the team buses departed.
The buses were quickly called back and so were the players, and a little after 3 p.m., Major League Baseball announced the start of the regular season was postponed by two weeks and the rest of spring training was canceled because of the coronavirus emergency.
“Pretty shocked just how quickly things have escalated,” Davis said.
Davis, the Orioles’ player representative, was unsure what comes next.
“It’s just a lot to take in. There are so many questions that I have, and I know a bunch of guys have approached me with questions I just don’t have answers to. Really, in the next couple of days we can get a little more clarity. It doesn’t seem real.”
Davis knows the next few days will be challenging.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “There’s some frustration with how much is up in the air, really. We just don’t really know what’s going to happen.
“Knowing now that the season’s going to be pushed back at least two weeks, it changes a lot of things for guys with families, plans to move out and start packing up. It’s going to change a lot of things. Obviously, it’s for the best of everybody involved. It’s a weird situation, to be honest with you.”
Davis would like to remain in Sarasota to continue his preparation for the season.
“I would prefer to stay here and work out and try to keep it as consistent and normal as possible,” he said. “But also understand that may not be the case. We’ll see how it goes in the next few days.”
The Orioles’ opener with the New York Yankees was scheduled for March 26 at Oriole Park.
“Right now, we’re going to see what happens with the owners, with MLB, see what kind of decisions they make, what kind of direction they’re planning on heading,” Davis said.
As the player representative, Davis has been in regular contact with the Major League Players Association.
“There were just so many unknowns,” he said. “I don’t think we knew the NBA, NHL … we didn’t know those guys were going to make the moves that they did. They’ve been emailing, texting, several phone conversations over the last few days.”
Davis understands the decision.
“It doesn’t ever take away from the initial shock. I understand what their thought process is. I know there are a lot of things we can’t control, and the things we can control, we need to do our best to protect ourselves, our families and everybody involved. I completely understand what they’re thinking right now.”
The Orioles issued a statement about the pandemic.
“The Orioles organization is fully supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend spring training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. The health and safety of our players, fans, staff, and partners will always be our top priority. We will communicate additional details, including information about refunds, directly to fans when they become available, as this is a rapidly evolving situation. We encourage everyone to continue to follow the important guidelines established by the CDC and other public health organizations.”
The Orioles played 19 of their 33 scheduled Grapefruit League games, with a record of nine wins, seven losses and three ties.
Besides the 14 remaining Florida games, including split-squad doubleheaders on Saturday and March 21, the Orioles were scheduled to play a March 24 game with the Naval Academy in Annapolis.