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Rockies Bridich, Black say players have to be responsible for MLB's successful return

The team's GM and manager made it clear in a Zoom call on Monday that players must make good decisions when it comes to wearing masks and staying home.
Credit: AP
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, third from left, listens to owner Dick Monfort talk, as manager Bud Black, left, and general manager, Jeff Bridich look on during a news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. The Rockies All-Star third baseman agreed to a $260 million, eight-year contract. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

DENVER — There should be a baseball season in 2020. 

Then again, if the last few months have taught us anything when it comes to COVID-19, we shouldn't assume things are going to happen as planned. 

In a conference call with local media on Monday morning, Rockies general manager, Jeff Bridich, and manager, Bud Black, made it clear they're planning on playing come July 23 or 24, but are taking things day-by-day. 

"Obviously, the virus is in control here," Bridich said. 

If there's a mass outbreak among players during the season, it's unclear if baseball could or would carry on as planned. Black said it's on the players to prevent that though, and so far he's been happy with guys taking the responsibility seriously. 

"I've heard a number of players (talk about) the commitment to each other to be safe and do things within (the CDC) guidelines off the field. Part of that group effort is staying safe and watching your health and watching what you do," Black said. "Guys are taking about wearing masks, cleanliness, social distancing. I've been really pumped up to hear how our guys are talking." 

For Bridich it comes down to making a conscious choice that things are just different in 2020, and routine things like going out to eat are now a decision that can't be taken lightly. 

"It's on the entire organization to remember this is not business as usual. It's going to be easy for us to fall into our normal rhythms and habits as we get back into hopefully practicing and playing games. We really need to do a good job of holding each other accountable to the protocols that have been put in place and worked on for weeks. We have to think before we act," Bridich said. "Remember your mask-wearing, making the decision to stay home instead of going out. It's on all of us to kind of stop and make sure we're making the right decision." 

Neither Bridich nor Black would comment on players who have already tested positive for coronavirus, but 9NEWS confirmed last week All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon was one of them. It's unclear if Blackmon will be with the team when "spring training 2.0" starts on Friday or Saturday. 

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Bridich did announce the team has reached an agreement with Metro State University to use its baseball field, along with Coors Field, as the team's two primary workout locations the next three weeks before the season is scheduled to begin. 

The Rockies set a 52-man player pool for the 2020 season on Sunday, falling well short of the maximum allowed of 60. 

"A consideration was the health of players and a smaller group hopefully leads to a healthier group," Bridich said. 

The 60-game season will certainly present unique challenges. Staying healthy being chief among them, but also knowing the added significance each game carries when it comes to securing a potential playoff spot. 

"I think you have to look at the season and realize it isn't the long haul that we're used to. The pitching will be highly monitored as we start, but also we know every game is important, so playing the hot hand out of the bullpen could come into play. There will be an intensity that's out there at a pretty high level for two months," Black said. 

It's a two-month baseball season that should happen – but then again, nothing is off the table in 2020.

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