The new world of Major League Baseball’s testing and precaution to stem the spread of the coronavirus takes some getting used to.
Austin Hays, who’s expected to be the Orioles’ centerfielder for the 60-game schedule that starts July 24th, is adjusting to the new reality.
“I wanted to come around the facility and see what the environment was going to look like,” Hays said on Monday in a video conference call.
“After being here for a couple of days and seeing how much time and effort has gone in from all the staff and all the clubhouse personnel and all of the adjustments they’ve been able to make to make it the safest environment possible for everybody under the circumstance. I feel very comfortable and very safe here.”
Hays said he has been tested three times in the last five days. The Orioles have not announced any test results.
“I do feel really safe here, even though there’s been a lot of players test positive around the league,” Hays said.
“Everything we’ve been doing so far is definitely sustainable. I think the precautions that all of us are taking right now, if we continue to be proactive with all that, make smart decisions when we’re away from the field and basically just quarantine ourselves when we go back.
“Basically, you don’t see anybody besides your family or whoever you live with in your apartment or hotel room. I think we can continue to see the positive results that we have seen.”
Hays said that the players fill out an app on symptoms each day along with temperature tests.
As an outfielder, Hays is removed from teammates.
“It’s a very big field, and the positions are very spread out,” he said. “There’s not too many guys around me, so I don’t feel like I need to focus on it all that much.
“As far as when I’m hitting in the cage, we’re all wearing masks and standing apart from each other, following the six-foot protocol when we’re in the locker room or by our lockers, showers, everywhere throughout the stadium. Even after a couple of days now, it’s second nature to follow the protocols.”
Hyde cites need for communication: Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that adhering to the protocols have been time-consuming.
“I feel like we’ve adjusted very well,” Hyde said. “I’ve relied heavily on a lot of people in our organization to guide me through this. I think there’s a lot of unknown.
“I talk to [head athletic trainer] Brian Ebel probably 30 times a day, just making sure everything’s going well, going smoothly from his end.
“We have to have a lot of communication. We’re in two clubhouses. Guys are coming in at different times, a lot of scheduling quirks. We have to make sure that everybody’s on the same page, and it comes from a lot of communication, not only in the coaches’ room, players, training staff, strength staff.”
Hyde said he has gotten used to working within the parameters.
“It’s challenging because it’s so much different than what we were used to, but I think we’re handling it well. So far, so good.”
Castro exercises caution: After spring training came to an end, Orioles reliever Miguel Castro returned to the Dominican Republic and rested for a week before he resumed working out.
“[I] was scared about the situation,” Castro said through a translator. “[I] was going out there on a daily basis trying to train, trying to prepare for the season. Every time [I] went out there, [I] saw a lot of people who, unfortunately, were not wearing any masks or were not following any sort of protocols, social distancing.
“It is a very scary situation. The best you can do is try to take measures on your own and, hopefully, all of us can follow and see you as an example. Unfortunately, there were a lot of cases back home, but I was able to train without any issues.”
Castro has found the social restrictions difficult.
“It is a difficult situation because you’re used to being around all of your teammates,” he said. “Maybe shaking their hands, maybe a fist bump. You may even hug a guy. Now, you have to face the reality that we all have to take care of each other.”