A few Bahamian minor league baseball players are back home as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to threaten the United States of America and indeed the world, pushing Major League Baseball’s (MLB) opening day from March 26 to mid-May at the earliest.
Various leagues in the minors were set to get underway on April 9. The last MLB spring training game to be played was back on March 12. The late games that day were cancelled.
One of those players back home who looks at the situation in a positive light is Keithron Moss, who is a member of the Texas Rangers organization.
“Obviously it is unfortunate that I am back home,” Moss said. “I am always in go mode and I was especially ready to go for this upcoming season. We can’t control the virus so all we have to do is take the positive out of it. As we are here back home, we have to try and get better. Obviously, we want to get paid but I take this as an opportunity to get better. That is how I think about it.”
The option of coming home or staying in the U.S. was on the table and for the New York Yankees’ D’Vaughn Knowles, the preference was to come home. Also choosing to come home was “Big Game” James Rolle who is a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization.
“We were out there practicing months on months getting ready for the season. As we were about to head out, they told us we have to wait it out and stay home. They e-mailed me and told me to be safe,” Rolle said.
Rolle said he was looking forward to playing for Great Britain in the 2020 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Qualifiers on Saturday past, but that was postponed indefinitely. The Bahamas is still unable to field a team but Rolle said he was looking forward to putting the country on the map through playing for Great Britain. A total of nine Bahamians played on Great Britain’s squad in the 2016 qualifiers.
The Orioles’ Dax Stubbs said that his team contacted him and gave him pointers on how to stay mentally prepared for the season.
“They keep letting us know how to stay safe, our mental health and how to deal with crisis so we can stay mentally prepared for when the season is ready,” Stubbs said.
Like Moss, the Houston Astros’ Everette Cooper is looking at the situation in a positive light.
“I don’t think of all of this as a setback,” he said. “I think of it as more time for us to prepare for the season.”
He said he has been using the time to practice and get some work done.
Knowles’ twin brother, the Los Angeles Angels’ D’Shawn Knowles, said he was practicing in Tempe, Arizona, and a few persons were showing symptoms of the virus but he was not in close contact with them.
“ Barkley was at the complex,” D’Shawn Knowles said. “I was not on the big leagues side when he was there and he felt a little feverish so they had everybody who was in contact with him isolated. There were two other people at the complex who had it. I don’t be anywhere around people, so I always wash my hands and drink my orange juice. They gave me the option to come home or stay there. I wanted to come home and at the time there were not any cases here.”
By time he set foot back home, there was a case here, and now there are four cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas – all on the capital island of New Providence.
D’Shawn Knowles said he was ready to put on a show this season, but added that he will trust the process, saying that God has a plan.
“I would gradually get back into things because I was playing in big league games. I was seeing and recognizing a lot of pitches. When I get back, I think we have two weeks of spring training, so I have to stay locked in,” he said.
The Miami Marlins’ Ian Lewis, who was signed last year July, said the organization preached social distancing to him and he is adhering to that.
“They just want us to stay safe and to protect ourselves. They want us to isolate ourselves and just get better and continue to work on our bodies,” said Lewis.
The 16-year-old infielder said that the pandemic is out of their control and the most important thing for him to do right now is to remain healthy and stay active.
All the players echoed that they will be ready to play whenever the season resumes and they want everyone to stay safe during these times.