ORI­OLES

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

Asked what the Ori­oles would do if a player opted out, Elias said that they’re go­ing to fol­low the rules while un­der­stand­ing the unique cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing this re­turn to work.

“We rec­og­nize that this will be fluid, and ev­ery­one is hav­ing to make per­sonal de­ci­sions and cir­cum­stances may not be fully un­der­stood un­til the sea­son starts, but so far, we are ex­pect­ing full par­tic­i­pa­tion — which you see in news around the league that that’s not the case ev­ery­where,” Elias said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if that ends up hap­pen­ing, but that’s go­ing to be a part of this.”

Any­one who chooses not to play for the Ori­oles or any other team this year would be do­ing so to re­duce the risk that they con­tract COVID-19, with states such as Florida, Ge­or­gia and Texas ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­cent resur­gence in cases. Elias said that the or­ga­ni­za­tion had one in­ter­na­tional mi­nor league player mon­i­tored when “there was some signs that he may be a pos­i­tive case,” but that never de­vel­oped into a con­firmed case.

“Other than that, we’ve been re­mark­ably lucky thus far,” Elias said. “I don’t ex­pect that to con­tinue through­out the sea­son. We’re go­ing to have cases. That’s been the ex­pec­ta­tion for Ma­jor League Base­ball all along. We’re go­ing to do the best we can to pre­pare for it, to con­tain it in sit­u­a­tions that oc­curred, to keep ev­ery­one healthy even when they do test pos­i­tive, and try to have the best out­comes we can. We all know that we’re head­ing into a sit­u­a­tion that is not with­out its pit­falls and we’re go­ing to do the best we can.”

At Ori­ole Park at Cam­den Yards, where the Ori­oles will host their ini­tial 44-player camp be­gin­ning with a work­out Fri­day af­ter play­ers re­port for test­ing Wed­nes­day, they’ll try to keep play­ers as safe as pos­si­ble. Mary­land’s coro­n­avirus met­rics have con­tin­ued to trend down­ward, with the statewide test­ing pos­i­tiv­ity rate at 4.84%.

Elias said that the club­house has been re­ar­ranged and aux­il­iary spa­ces will be used to “cre­ate a more spa­cious at­mos­phere” and ad­here to so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­quire­ments while play­ers are in­doors.

They’ll also be sub­jected to strict sched­ules that Elias said man­ager Bran­don Hyde and ma­jor league field co­or­di­na­tor/catch­ing in­struc­tor Tim Cossins have mapped out for play­ers, es­pe­cially in the early days of in­di­vid­u­al­ized work be­fore game-like sit­u­a­tions be­gin for pitch­ers and then hit­ters.

“It’s a cozy build­ing to be­gin with and we’re not go­ing to be able to just have ev­ery­one there and ev­ery­one hang­ing out,” Elias said. “It’s go­ing to have to be real scripted plans for who’s work­ing where and when. It’s a big ef­fort.”

All those pre­cau­tions will also take place at the Ori­oles’ sec­ondary camp site, where they’ll house the rest of their 60-man player pool, Elias said, though he wasn’t pre­pared to say when that camp would open or where it would be. He said that it will fea­ture play­ers who, un­like the ini­tial list of 44 play­ers, aren’t in con­tention to be on the Open­ing Day ros­ter.

Even­tu­ally, prospects try­ing to get play­ing rep­e­ti­tions will be added as well, but they’re “be­ing very cau­tious about flesh­ing out that list” be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to re­move play­ers with­out re­leas­ing them once they’re on it and the Ori­oles don’t want to lose any tal­ent be­cause of that, Elias said.

At both sites, the Ori­oles will be “tak­ing great care to ex­e­cute the league’s pro­to­cols to the fullest and make sure that any amount of plan­ning or care that is not only re­quired but sug­gested or pru­dent, that we’re be­ing sure to take,” Elias said.

“We take this very se­ri­ously,” he said. “We have from the start. I think that the state of Mary­land has had a sim­i­lar ap­proach, and we cer­tainly don’t want to stop that now.”

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

It has seemed like an eter­nity since Cedric Mullins and the O’s were tak­ing swings at the Ori­oles’ train­ing camp at Ed Smith Sta­dium.

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