Support Local News.

At a moment of historic disruption and change with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the calls for social and racial justice, there's never been more of a need for the kind of local, independent and unbiased journalism that The Day produces.
Please support our work by subscribing today.

Britton reveals MLB has discussed several neutral sites

TAMPA, Fla. — Zack Britton knows what it’s like to play baseball in an empty stadium. With the Orioles, he pitched in that April 29, 2015 game against the White Sox at Camden Yards. With riots after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, MLB ruled the game would go on without fans. Britton recalled it was eerie and not a lot of fun, but in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic he agrees it could be the way to restart baseball.

The Yankees union rep told Sirius/XM’s MLB Network Radio channel that empty stadiums and a neutral site for teams like the Yankees whose big league cities are hotspots for the virus are being discussed for when the game is able to resume.

“For the sake of the public I think that that’s the right move, and honestly I think we could possibly need to find a neutral site for a little while because New York has been such a hotbed for this,” Britton said. “And guys are open to that. I know there are sites they’ve already discussed. I’m not sure if I should even say that publicly, but I know that there’s four sites or four or five sites that are going to have to be added.”

He said that MLB and the union need to discuss how to use these potential neutral sites if they get to that point. The sites would be chosen based on having the resources, facilities and hotels to host a big league team.

Florida and Arizona had been mentioned as possible neutral sites to host big league teams that could not return to their normal cities. It’s not ideal and would undoubtedly affect the games, because minor league stadiums not only are smaller, but also do not have good stadium lighting.

But the players want to work with the owners to get baseball back as soon as responsibly possible and also play as many games as they can.

“I think the big thing for us obviously is getting the season going and playing regular-season games through that month of October and then you know in a perfect world, obviously, you know, seeing where we are with the expanded playoffs, after that.

“We’re gonna have to have those talks pretty soon, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter until you know that the virus is under control,” Britton continued. “And people are able to go back to, you know, everyday life, let alone … to go watch baseball or play baseball.”

Britton said he has been back at home in Texas, spending quality time with his family. He has a gym and bullpen at his place and is able to workout there. He said it’s been a bit of trial and error figuring out how to stay ready for a season that they don’t know when and if it will start.

“When spring training got suspended I mean I was ready to roll out right to the start of the season. So what I’ve done is, you know, I was just kind of guessing right now, honestly,” Britton said. “I am keeping the intensity up like once a week. In my house here I built the new gym, I’ve got a bullpen in here, so I kind of dial up the intensity and try to go throw. I’ve got a hitting dummy I’ll put in there to try to … visualize the faces of some hitters and things like that. Obviously you’re never gonna be able to full-on duplicate that experience, but that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to keep the intensity up there off the mound once a week.

“I continue working out in the gym, throwing like I would, if it was the regular season, but I’m not trying to overdo it off the mound, but I need to keep some resemblance of intensity because I don’t want to go back to whatever type of spring we have and be in a position, we’re not physically ready to go.”


Loading comments...
Hide Comments
Stay up to date with The Day's breaking coronavirus coverage
Sign up to receive our daily coronavirus newsletter

All of our stories about the coronavirus are being provided free of charge as a service to the public. You can find all of our stories here.

You can support local journalism by subscribing to The Day.