TAMPA — George M. Steinbrenner Field should have been packed on Saturday — filled with Yankees fans on vacation, as well as Phillies fans who made the short trip from Clearwater, Fla., to see Joe Girardi face his former team.
Instead, the Yankees had an informal workout, their first since spring training, and much of the rest of the world, shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
About the only action the handful of fans who wandered around the outskirts of Steinbrenner Field could see were some infield drills on a back field, while much of the rest of the team hit and played catch inside. Some outfielders did work in the main stadium, according to bench coach Carlos Mendoza.
“Pretty weird,’’ Mendoza said of the new setup as he left the facility following the short workout. “It’s pretty strange. Obviously a difficult situation, but we’re trying our best to do what we can.’’
Friday, the Yankees voted as a team to remain in Tampa and work out at the complex rather than head to their respective homes or to New York.
“They gave us the option of what we wanted to do,’’ Zack Britton said Friday. “We decided as a team we wanted to stay here and continue working out and getting ready for whenever the season is. It was unanimous, everyone wants to stay here and get ready to go for when the season starts back.’’
On the first day of those workouts, Mendoza said a “large group of players showed up.”
Among those spotted either on the field or in the parking lot were pitchers Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, Luis Cessa and Luis Severino, as well as position players Mike Ford, Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade and Kyle Higashioka.
General manager Brian Cashman was among the execs at the field, along with a handful of coaches.
“We were able to do defensive work, infield work,” Mendoza said. “Guys hit indoors, pitchers played catch. We’ll continue to do that.’’
For how long, no one knows.
There will be no more spring training games, and the start of the regular season has already been pushed back “at least” two weeks, according to MLB, and with some cities and states banning events with large crowds until well into April, there’s no telling when Opening Day will actually be.
In the meantime, the Yankees will continue to do what they can to stay sharp, with players free to leave if they change their mind.
“We’re gonna support [the players] and obviously that’s our job,’’ Mendoza said of the team’s decision to stay local. “We’ll see where this situation will take us because every day it looks like it changes so who knows what’s going to happen? But as of right now we’re here for them.”
And they’re all trying to stay focused on baseball while circumstances continue to evolve.
“We’re just working because obviously we don’t have much information,” Mendoza said. “We’re just waiting to see what happens above us. So as of right now it’s like business as usual and we’re just working out.”
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