MILWAUKEE -- The time of quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic has many of us adjusting to a new normal. FOX6's Brandon Cruz spoke with Milwaukee Brewers Pitcher Ray Black at his family farm in Pennsylvania about how he's getting ready for a possible season.
"I'm fortunate to be able to have a workout facility locally that granted me access, so we are able to get in there and workout," said Black. "I am able to stay in shape pretty well. The Brewers strength staff has done an incredible job with giving us workouts. Usually they give us one workout per day in the offseason. Every day, we have about five workouts currently. They are getting clever using backpacks, and fill them with books, and use them as a weighted vest, so we are all kind of adapting differently in trying to stay in shape."
FOX6's Brandon Cruz: "You guys are so routine oriented. Everything is scheduled. Everything works into a plan. Now, there is no schedule, so to speak. There is just a fact of you trying to stay in shape, and you be baseball ready for when you are called back. How tough is it to adjust to that kind of change?"
"Yeah, that is difficult," said Black. "Like I said, the start date is always easiest. Hey, spring training is starting on this day. You can kind of map it backwards. Alright, I need to be 100% by spring. Well, now, we don't have that start date set in stone. That is what is really making it difficult. I was able to ramp up to getting my velocity back up to about 100% feeling healthy at spring. Then, all of a sudden, you are shut down. Well, you don't really want to lose that, but at the same time, you don't want to be wasting bullets throwing at a Little League field in your backyard in your hometown, so that has been the difficulty for a lot of guys, not having the start date right now."
Black said he and other members of the Crew are anxious to return to "normal."
"We all want to get back to play," said Black. "I want to get back to play. The league. Every team. Every guy. That's one thing that we can all agree on in baseball is that we want to start playing again. I think what is going to have to end up happening, though, is there is going to be talks, I'm sure, with the Players Association and trying to understand what restrictions we are going to have. How is travel going to work? We have certain cities that have these stay-at-home policies and lockdowns in place until the middle of June, so if you are in one of those cities that has been hit hard by this, are you even going to be able to host games at all? Or are you going to have to play on the road the whole first month of the season? I think the great thing is that we are having these discussions. That's where it has to start. We all want to get back out there as soon as possible, so if there is a way to get out there soon as possible, let's work through that. Let's see what we have on the table. After that, see if it is feasible."
FOX6's Brandon Cruz: "You were in Phoenix, obviously, when spring training shut down. Then, guys went home or stayed in Phoenix or came to Milwaukee. Was it kind of scary how all of that quickly unfolded and seemed to be hour to hour?"
"It was really hour to hour," said Black. "I think it happened so quickly that I didn't really understand exactly how severe the situation really was. It is happening quickly again. Talks are happening. You guys are finding out about the same time I find out. Players aren't really finding out too much longer before reporters are reporting it. We are trying to just stay up to date with all the information, as well. Hopefully, we will have a decision in the next couple weeks."
The uncertainty remains, but reports say that Major League Baseball is considering a number of creative ways to play a 2020 schedule.
In the meantime, with no games to play, there are things to enjoy. For example, the added time with family and friends instead of the constant travel from city to city.
"It's been great to have friends still locally back home, be able to see them again this time of year," Black said. "Spending time with my wife, the two of us are fiddling around with the farm all the time, out in the backyard shooting bows with each other.
"Baseball is a stressful season, for sure. So it is kind of nice to escape that stress right now and be able to be with the family, too. That is obviously the most important. That was the first thing we talked about in the locker room when all this started, everybody's question was we want to play baseball. But everybody's first priority is what can we do for our families.
Black said doing what was best for players' families was the driving force behind leaving spring training in Arizona when they did.