In an ideal world, Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke would presumably be in his Boston home right about now, preparing for his team’s 26th game of the season against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Instead, the coronavirus pandemic that has halted the sports world has led the baseball lifer to have no games to coach or manage at a point in time he would typically be doing so.
“I’ve been through some strikes, some lockouts, some crazy late starts in spring training, but nothing like this” Roenicke told NESN’s Tom Caron in a TV interview Tuesday. “This is so strange. I wake up every morning knowing and know I should be going to the ballpark and I’m at home. That’s just really weird.”
Roenicke was officially named interim manager by Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on February 11th, so the 63-year-old had a little more than a month to make preparations for the 2020 campaign before Major League Baseball suspended spring training and delayed the start of the season on March 12th.
From that point, Red Sox players, coaches, and staff, for the most part, have all left the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers and returned to their respective homes.
Roenicke, a California native, still has to communicate with his players though, and that has been a lot easier to do now thanks to modern technology.
“With the players, it’s [mostly] texting and phone calls,” Roenicke told Caron. “I know Chaim and [GM Brian O’Halloran] are reaching out to some guys with some things on what’s going on. It’s a lot of text messaging. It’s hard for players also to be sitting at home during this time. Anytime we can be with them in a text or phone call, it’s helpful for them just sitting and wondering what’s going on.”
Although there is no set date for the start of the 2020 MLB season, Roenicke still believes three to four weeks is all his players need to ramp things back up.
“I don’t think we need to go longer than that,” the interim skipper said of the three to four week training period. “If MLB can give us a little bit of a heads up so guys can start getting at it more at their home or wherever they are, it certainly would help to speed this thing up.
“It’s the starting pitching, trying to get them stretched out,” said Roenicke. “If we can get those starters to start throwing some bullpens, even if they’re at home. Some up-downs. And we start up this thing, we won’t need those 3-4 weeks. It will shrink down, and if we can get them maybe three starts or something in a spring….That’s what some of the conversation we had with the commissioner, the managers trying to figure out what we can do and how we can get these starters back in shape.”
Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, “Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke for one hour [Friday] morning with major-league managers” in which he “offered no specifics on how the season might begin.” That’s the conversation Roenicke was referencing.
Speaking of Manfred, Roenicke, like seemingly everyone else in the Red Sox organization, still does not know when the results of the league’s investigation into the 2018 team will be released.
“I don’t know,” Roenicke said. “I think there’s so many other things that I’m thinking about and just trying to think about getting the season started again. And also obviously concerned about what’s going on in the country with the jobs and with people losing their lives and the people that are sick. These things go on. Sometimes they’re easy for some people and sometimes they last for 4-6 weeks. So, hopefully we can get this controlled.”
That’s the same sort of sentiment Bloom echoed in an interview with WEEI last week, when he said, “It is obviously frustrating that we don’t have that outcome yet. But with what is going on in the last month I think it is understandable. I know the commissioner was on a timetable doing everything he could to wrap it up before the season. Sometime early to mid-March, the coronavirus took over pretty much of every ounce of everybody’s available time and energy. I think we’re still at that stage. We are hopeful at some point when everybody gets a chance to come up for air…I know the commissioner has said the investigation is complete and it’s a question of getting into the report. We’re hopeful there is time to do that so we can all see the results and move forward. I think you have to cut everyone some slack given our industry and everybody has been dealing with something we really haven’t faced before, something for which there is no road map and understandably it has dominated everyone’s attention for the last month or so.”
To watch the full interview between Caron and Roenicke, click here.