Team grap­ples with un­cer­tain fu­ture

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Shayna Ru­bin

It all hap­pened so fast. Tidal waves in rapid suc­ces­sion shut down pro­fes­sional sports within a span of about 48 hours. First came the club­house and locker room clo­sures. Panic struck later that night when Utah Jazz cen­ter Rudy Gobert tested pos­i­tive for COVID-19, spark­ing sports to shut­ter its doors in­def­i­nitely.

All of base­ball, locked into spring train­ing’s home stretch, was sud­denly pushed un­der a na­tional di­rec­tive to stop, be safe, take shel­ter and go home.

The fright­en­ing and abrupt or­ders threw a wrench in the Oak­land Ath­let­ics’ 2020 mo­men­tum — what was sup­posed to be a stars-aligned sea­son — but there was a sil­ver lin­ing for out­fielder Mark Canha and his wife, Marci.

“I will now be here be­fore, dur­ing, and after the birth of my sec­ond baby, who is due the sec­ond week of May,” Canha said in a mes­sage to this news or­ga­ni­za­tion. “So al­though this is a scary

time, I am ex­cited for that.”

Canha, with most of his team­mates, found their way back to their homes when A’s camp at Ho­hokam Sta­dium in Mesa broke on March 12, 10 days ear­lier than an­tic­i­pated. Spring train­ing was can­celed and the reg­u­lar sea­son de­layed, ini­tially, for the first two weeks — a post­pone­ment that was pushed for at least eight weeks in ac­cor­dance with a Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion di­rec­tive. A new nor­mal set in quickly for the A’s; base­ball would hop to the back burner. Health came first.

“The A’s are tak­ing the stance that we should take this time to stay healthy and not go out too much, while stay­ing in shape as best as pos­si­ble,” Canha said. The Bay Area na­tive was just start­ing to hit his spring stride — the 31-year-old was slash­ing .318/.448/.455 with a .903 OPS in 11 games. He was 7-for-22 with six RBI, three dou­bles, six walks and eight strike­outs.

For Canha, keep­ing in play­ing shape dur­ing this hia­tus means do­ing body weight work­outs in his back­yard. Lunges, pushups, sit ups, jump­ing jacks and us­ing his ex­er­cise bike.

“This week, I will also prob­a­bly start tak­ing dry swings in my back­yard just to stay in ‘hit­ting shape.’” Canha said. “How­ever, do­ing base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties is very dif­fi­cult right now. I will have to get cre­ative over the up­com­ing weeks in fig­ur­ing out a way to do some base­ball ac­tiv­ity. I have not fig­ured that out yet.”

For Canha, that might in­clude go­ing full back­yard base­ball — pick­ing up his bats, gloves, gear and head­ing to the clos­est pub­lic park to hit off a tee. Soon enough, he will be­gin reach­ing out to team­mates to start a longdis­tance drill brain­storm.

“This de­lay to the sea­son is such a ques­tion mark, I think we’re all still stunned a bit,” Canha said.

A peek at some of the A’s In­sta­gram sto­ries in­di­cates that the play­ers are fall­ing back into some off­sea­son rou­tines at home. Righthande­d starter Mike Fiers posted videos of him get­ting

some pitches in back in Florida, his home state. Out­fielder Ramón Lau­re­ano, on the other hand, posted a pic­ture of his work­out gear at Ho­hokam.

“So bored I don’t even know how to make an (In­sta­gram) story,” Lau­re­ano’s post reads.

Across the globe, play­ers are still com­ing to terms with this strange, scary re­al­ity. Base­ball may seem a triv­ial speck on the grander, life-and-death im­pli­ca­tions we must col­lec­tively grap­ple. Even amid a pan­demic, the cliché still stands: all th­ese play­ers can do is take the process — the hia­tus, the un­cer­tainty, the makeshift work­outs — one day at a time.

Base­ball play­ers know that sports will be a way to help the world cope. They want to play as soon as they are al­lowed.

“My hope is that we get started as soon as pos­si­ble, what­ever that means,” Canha said. “If it’s in lo­ca­tion other than Oak­land and with­out fans, that would be un­for­tu­nate. But, I’d like to get back out there as soon as pos­si­ble so we can get a 2020 sea­son in.”

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