As baseball's COVID-19 testing increases, Cubs still have clean bill of health
The Cubs postponed their workout and intrasquad scrimmage at Wrigley Field on Tuesday because there was a delay in getting results of the coronavirus tests from Sunday.
Once again, there were no positive tests. The Cubs have been the exception during this time of sports resumption, but general manager Jed Hoyer was hesitant to take credit.
"There has to be a certain amount of luck involved in that, let's be honest," Hoyer said in a Zoom call with reporters. "We're not immune from that. We're going to face our challenges with that at some point. I think that's inevitable."
Hoyer provided an update on the concerns expressed by Kris Bryant that Major League Baseball promised testing every other day, but that hadn't happened during the first week of summer camp.
Hoyer talked about a gap between initial testing and the regular routine. He said all players and coaches were tested again Tuesday.
"I think now that we're going to get into this every-other-day routine, I think things are going to smooth out really well," Hoyer said. "It doesn't mean we're out of the woods. I think that transition was the challenge."
Hoyer also responded to Bryant's wish of not getting shipped out in a trade during this pandemic. He said management will tread carefully during the next few months, but transactions are inevitable.
"We're still charged with putting the best team on the field and I feel like we're going to have to make some player transactions, right?" Hoyer said. "That is going to be something that is going to be challenging and difficult for us. We also, even just the way the rosters are set up, you go from 30 to 28 to 26 (players) During that process, you're going to have to option players out or send players to different places.
"There's no question that's an uncomfortable thing to think about from our perspective and obviously Kris is voicing that it's uncomfortable from a player perspective. That's something we're going to have to talk through."
The Cubs experimented with fake crowd noise during Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage.
The scrimmage featured the summer's first home run, a 2-run shot by Willson Contreras off Craig Kimbrel. Javy Baez doubled for the third-straight scrimmage. This one lasted just 2 ½ innings and featured five relief pitchers.
Hoyer also talked about first-year manager David Ross' ability to keep things light and fun during these unusual times.
"I think whenever you feel restricted by new rules and confined by things, you're less likely to have a great time and enjoy yourself," Hoyer said. "With all those things going on -- wet rag in your pocket, don't spit, don't high-five, don't do this, don't do that. If you start to think about all those things, then you start to play baseball in this inhibited fashion and you can't do that.
"That's something Rossy and I have talked about a lot. We've got to have fun and we have to keep it light and it has to feel like a game."
Ross had a good laugh when he spoke to reporters earlier in the day and was asked if he's glad to see the designated hitter come to the National League this season.
"I'm glad. I told Jonny (Lester), the only drawback to the DH for me is I didn't get to pull him off the on-deck circle and tell him he was done for the day," Ross said. "He told me, 'What are you talking about, I'm one of your top five hitters off the bench.'"
Of course, Ross won a couple World Series by serving as Lester's preferred catcher.
"I think the DH makes us better," Ross said. "I think we've got some guys we can match up for that. It makes my job easier for sure."