KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Royals Manager Mike Matheny is well aware of the chatter looming around the League – Some rumors say Major League Baseball will return July 1. Others say the MLB might not return at all in 2020. And that’s something the first-year Royals manager is not giving any thought to.
"I’m listening to all the ones that are saying we're going to play and listening to none of the ones that say anything differently,” Matheny said. “I’ve been diligent about this with our staff and the players… trying to give them every update.”
On Wednesday night, Jeff Passan, MLB insider for ESPN, tweeted an article saying MLB teams are telling players to get ready. The League is expected to send a return-to-play proposal to the union soon, but no official word has come from Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Matheny said he thinks the biggest concern for players returning, once the season is given the all clear, will be keeping up with the pace a major league game demands.
“The one thing that you can’t really replicate is game speed,” he said. “As many pitches as we’ve built these guys up to, the first day we would throw them out there on a live session, they would probably be able to [do] half of what they’ve been doing... Same way with guys getting good batting practice as opposed to live batting practice.”
Although game speed might present challenges, Matheny said he feels confident Royals players will be ready faster than most would anticipate.
"As of right now, the guys are doing the things they need to do to make this just a pause on where we were,” he said. “I'm happy with what I'm seeing from everybody...We will probably jump back in pretty quick... I truly don't think it will take us a long as most people think it will (to get ready)."
All in all, Matheny said the Royals have remained optimistic for a season return sooner rather than later. The restart might not be perfect, but as long as baseball is being played, it's a step in the right direction.
“Let’s hear where the commissioner's office and Major League baseball are leading us, let’s do everything we can to play inside of those rules, understand that this isn’t how it’s going to be forever, but let’s get away from what we think it should look like and do whatever we have to do for now for the game of baseball,” Matheny said, “... and for me, I believe it will be good for our country…
“Let's do whatever we have to do – masks, you name it, we do it. Let's get baseball going again. And then as this thing begins to sort itself out and we begin to heal as a nation, one physically and then psychologically, we will already be running, so I think it's very important for us to be very open, but respectful."