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New Royals' manager Matheny weighs in on MLB plan to play in Arizona

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:15:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last time we saw the Royals, they were in Arizona for Spring Training in preparation for the 2020 season.

That might be the next time we see the Royals, too.

Per a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, a plan being considered by Major League Baseball would start the season as early as May with every team playing in the Phoenix area, using the Diamondbacks' home ballpark and Spring Training sites.

Nothing is definitive, but it may be the quickest path back to playing games albeit with certain social-distancing guidelines and no fans in the stands.

New Royals manager Mike Matheny knows it's early in the process of plotting a return to games.

"I think the title of our conversation is 'speculation,' right?" Matheny said Tuesday via video conference. "That's the first step. They're just kind of some ideas that are being thrown out there."

The idea would include isolating players from the outside world — even their families — for an indefinite amount of time.

"These are times where you're just going to get out of the comfort zone sometimes," Matheny said. "I don't think it would be ideal. But if, in fact, that's something that happens or something along those lines, then jump in."

Matheny, who last managed in 2018 as the skipper of the St. Louis Cardinals, is happy there's at least discussions about how baseball could resume.

"I'm excited that Major League Baseball and the commissioner's office, they're in conversation and they're in contact with the powers that be and with our politicians and our health officials to try and figure out how we could possibly do this," Matheny said.

While Royals players are spread across the country and, in some cases, out of the country, a team official is in contact with each player three to five times per week.

"Even if they're in lockdown and in their homes, there are some pretty detailed and pretty tough workouts," Matheny said. "But more importantly, just trying to let them know that we don't know how this thing's going to play out. That switch could flip at any time, so have your mind ready and have your body as close to being ready."

Matheny thinks that another three-week preseason would be ideal before the start of the season, but that they'll go at any time MLB tells them to play ball:
"We'll make it work."

Major League Baseball issued a statement about the ESPN report, noting that it has yet to settle on a plan for a potential return:

MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so. While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.

While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association. The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.
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