The Yankees’ 2 Goals: Avoid the Coronavirus, and Win the World Series

Nearly 60 Yankees players and their coaches will gather on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx for full-squad workouts. It will be the first time everyone is together again in one place since March 12, the day Major League Baseball shut down spring training because of the coronavirus outbreak.

After four months of upheaval, contentious negotiations between the players’ union and team owners, and a lot of home workouts, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone insisted on Wednesday that the club’s original mission remained the same.

“Because circumstances and certainly this season have changed, that goal doesn’t change: We want to be champions,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

They were on a short list of favorites to win the title when they first convened in February, after having fallen two wins short of reaching the World Series last fall. They figured they had added the missing piece they needed — the top-flight pitcher Gerrit Cole, whom they signed for a record $324 million contract over the winter — to claim their first title since 2009. Now they just have to find a way to do it over a 60-game regular season, instead of the normal 162.

“I do think one of the separators this year is going to be the teams that are able to find that energy, to find that focus, to find that edge on a daily basis in what is going to be unique and challenging circumstances,” Boone said.

Latest Updates: Global Coronavirus Outbreak


  • Grim virus milestones continue to sweep across the U.S.
  • Texas cities are being thrown into crisis mode.
  • More Republicans embrace masks despite resistance from Trump.

Across M.L.B., Wednesday was report day for summer workouts. A handful of players arrived at Yankee Stadium around noon, all donning masks. Players underwent another round of physicals, but there was a new M.L.B.-prescribed intake screening: temperatures were taken, and coronavirus and antibody tests were administered.

Most M.L.B. organizations have already dealt with cases of the virus among their players and staff, including the Yankees — two of their minor league players tested positive in March and a handful of staff members did so in Tampa, Fla., did last month.

General Manager Brian Cashman said in a Tuesday conference call that everyone had recovered, and that in most cases the symptoms had been “extremely mild.”

But in the coming days, more cases could emerge as M.L.B. begins testing players and on-field staff every other day, and essential staff multiple times a week, as stipulated by M.L.B.’s 113-page manual of health and safety protocols for the 2020 season.

While praising the breadth of the protocols, Cashman and Boone acknowledged a level of unpredictability in the season.

“If this year has taught you anything, it’s to understand that anything is possible with this,” Boone said, referring to the virus. “All I know is that in my world, my job and my focus is to comply as best I can and comply as best as a team that we can.”

In recent days, Yankees officials have rushed to adapt their workouts, and Yankee Stadium itself, to the new health and safety requirements. The Yankees’ first choice for a second camp was their sprawling spring training facilities in Tampa, but as the virus surged in Florida they decided to return to their home stadium.

It will be unlike any preseason camp they have experienced. To follow social distancing rules, Cashman said players and staff at Yankee Stadium will spread out between the home, visiting and auxiliary clubhouses. Both the home and visiting bullpens and batting cages will be used. Pitchers may even use the stadium’s concourses to play catch, and training tables might be set up in open areas for better ventilation.

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • What’s the best material for a mask?

      Scientists around the country have tried to identify everyday materials that do a good job of filtering microscopic particles. In recent tests, HEPA furnace filters scored high, as did vacuum cleaner bags, fabric similar to flannel pajamas and those of 600-count pillowcases. Other materials tested included layered coffee filters and scarves and bandannas. These scored lower, but still captured a small percentage of particles.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

“We will utilize every aspect” of Yankee Stadium, Cashman said.

As soon as workouts begin, Boone said he expected pitchers, who have been throwing bullpen sessions over the past few months, to face their teammates. Intrasquad games are expected later in camp.

Cashman said four key injured Yankees — pitcher James Paxton (back surgery), and outfielders Aaron Judge (fractured rib), Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) and Giancarlo Stanton (calf strain) — had been able to continue rehabilitating during the hiatus, and he was optimistic they would all be ready for opening day on July 23.

But Cashman was aware that his team’s status as favorites might have been dented by this season’s untraditional circumstances. Games will be, at least to start, in front of empty stands. Players and support staff will have to adjust their routines in several ways, at and away from the stadium. On the field, there are many new rules, including a runner on second base to start extra innings. And the Yankees will have just more than a third of the usual runway to separate themselves from the rest of baseball.

“In a shortened season, it heightens the ability for anybody to take a shot at the title, ” Cashman said.

Before Saturday’s workout, Boone said, he planned to deliver a message of collective responsibility to the team. Some new regulations may be challenging or feel like a nuisance, he said, but everyone’s health, most importantly, and the viability of the season depended on it.

“I believe one of my biggest jobs will be to make sure that there is a message that guys are constantly enforcing with one another,” Boone said, “and that we’re constantly holding each other accountable.”

Of course, when he makes those comments, Boone said, he will likely do so outside and to three or four smaller groups. Just another adjustment in what will be a season full of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *