Nelson Cruz should be preparing to hit opponents pitches this week. Instead, he hit the weights Monday — and invited fans to observe.
Cruz, from his home in the Dominican Republic, worked out live as he broadcast 30 minutes of his workout on Instagram. He huffed and puffed between reps as he looked at the camera while explaining what the exercises did for him.
Taylor Rogers was in Denver, more than 2,400 miles from Cruz’s home in Las Matas de Santa Cruz. The Twins closer spends his time playing catch with Twins minor leaguer Griffin Jax, who lives in the area, while tending to duties as the player’s union representative.
Both Cruz and Rogers are trying not to go stir crazy.
“It’s one of those things,” Rogers said, “where we have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
They are two of a league full of players idled by the nationwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Major League Baseball isn’t expected to resume until the end of May, and that has been written in pencil.
Some Twins players headed for the Twin Cities, but many went to their year-round homes to wait for the OK to ramp up activities. Cruz said he is back in the Dominican at this time of year for the first time in 20 seasons. Rogers estimated that he hasn’t been in Colorado in late March since 2011.
“It feels weird,” said Cruz, who joined Rogers in a conference call with reporters Monday. “It is what it is, and we have to deal with it.”
Cruz has a large workout facility on his compound, so he has no problem getting the workouts he needs. Other Twins have had to fend for themselves, which has been tricky since many health clubs in the United States have been closed. They rise in the morning, work out then figure out what to do for the rest of the day.
Some have families to spend time with, but Rogers mentioned he has been staying away from his father, Scott — the operations chief for West Metro Fire and Rescue in nearby Lakewood, Colo. — because he has to be mindful of what and whom his father comes into contact with while on the job.
Just like millions of people, they are looking for ways to spend their time because of the threat of the coronavirus.
“The days are different,” Cruz said. “Some days I go crazy. I play a little basketball, work out, hit, go back and hit again, play some dominoes with my cousin. My cousin and two of my friends stay together. We don’t get bored, so we can play dominoes.
“We stay up late, we don’t go out. We watch movies, Netflix. We talk. We sleep. We spend most of the time keeping the mind busy. We don’t think much about what’s going on.”
Holding out hope
Neither Cruz nor Rogers wants to imagine a year without a baseball season, but no one knows how long citizens will have to stay at home before the virus is no longer a serious threat. That might require the development of a vaccine, which figures to be more than a year away to test, approve and put into circulation.
“We’re all holding out hope that there will be some type of season this year,” Rogers said. “I don’t think anybody wants to get into that doomsday scenario where there is no season. But if that is the case, we just know that it’s for the greater good.
“We want people to be healthy. This is bigger than baseball, and if we cannot play baseball because of this, that’s just one we’ll have to take because this is more important than baseball.”
Meanwhile, discussions between the union and Major League Baseball continue on a variety of fronts. The sides did agree on paying minor leaguers through April 8 and owners have pledged $1 million per team to pay stadium workers.
But many issues remain unsolved, like what the schedule will look like once baseball resumes. Some sort of mini-spring training will be needed for starting pitchers to regain stamina lost from the layoff, a length that can’t be determined until it’s safe to return to camps.
Keeping in touch
Rogers said many ideas have been exchanged, but one thing both sides agree on is that they want to get in as many games as possible. That indicates that the regular season will push into October.
“It’s my understanding, I think, it would be likely that we’re playing in October,” he said. “There would be some baseball in October. Obviously, when we get down to that point. I think we are going to have to look at some stuff because we all know what baseball in Minnesota could look like in November.”
No one with the Twins organization has shown any symptoms of coronavirus to date, but the club does have a COVID-19 task force in place to assist if that happens.
Rogers maintains contact with the club and his teammates to share information as it becomes available. Between that, and workouts, there’s not a lot more that he, his teammates and players across MLB can do right now.
“I think my closet is color-coded at the moment,” Rogers said. “That’s how bored I am.”