Red Sox release revised Grapefruit League schedule

The Red Sox were originally slated to open Grapefruit League play against the Pirates on February 27, but their spring training schedule has since been revised.

Per a team release, the Sox will now kick off their slate of exhibition games on February 28 against the Twins at Hammond Stadium, and instead of playing just about every other Grapefruit League team, they will only be playing the Twins, Braves, Orioles, Pirates and Rays.

That being the case because all five of those teams’ spring training complexes are located within close proximity to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, and “to reflect the recommendations suggested by medical experts and infectious disease specialists, Major League Baseball has regionalized the matchups between teams to limit travel.”

By the time spring training comes to an end in late March, the Red Sox will have hopefully played 29 games in a span of 31 days, though the rules for those games will be quite relaxed as part of MLB’s health and safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, games between February 27 and March 13 can be played as five- or seven-inning games, as long as the managers agree, while games on or after March 4 will be scheduled as nine innings but managers can agree to shorten them to seven if they so choose.

In total, Boston is scheduled to play 15 of its Grapefruit League contests at JetBlue Park and 14 of them on the road in Bradenton, Fort Myers, North Port, Port Charlotte, and Sarasota.

The team plans on having fans in the stands for home games, though only at a limited capacity to allow for proper social distancing measures. From the aforementioned release:

“The Red Sox will implement appropriate physical distancing and safety protocols that would allow fans to return in a limited capacity for 2021 Spring Training exhibition games by operating JetBlue Park at approximately 24 percent of its normal capacity. All tickets will be sold in physically distanced ‘pods’ comprised primarily of 2-4 seats that will allow for at least six feet between groups. Season Ticket Holders will be offered the first opportunity to attend exhibition games and additional tickets may go on sale to the general public depending on availability. All day games at JetBlue Park will start at 1:05 p.m., and all night games will start at 6:05 p.m.”

For the Red Sox’ full 2021 spring training and regular season schedule, click here.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

‘Overwhelming Majority’ of Red Sox Players Have Reportedly Left Fort Myers or Will Be Leaving Soon Due to Coronavirus Concerns

An ‘overwhelming majority’ of Red Sox players have reportedly already left Fort Myers or are planning to do so soon, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Per Abraham, the Red Sox feel “it’s best for players, coaches., etc. to go home” while a “small staff will be at Fenway South for any who do stay.”

This news comes on the same day Major League Baseball sent a memo to all 30 clubs stating that, “40-man roster players must be permitted to remain at the club’s spring training site, and are eligible to receive their usual spring training allowances…We understand that many 40-man roster players have chosen to remain in camp to date, but we anticipate that may change in the coming days as events continue to unfold and players become better educated about current conditions.”

In regard to non-roster and other minor-league players not on a club’s 40-man roster, those players “should return to their off-season residences to the extent practical. If it is not feasible for a non-roster player to return home, which may be the case for some international players or players who reside in high-risk areas in the United States, clubs should work with the player to provide suitable accommodations. Non-roster players who require ongoing treatment from the club’s medical personnel may remain in order to receive treatment.”

With Major League Baseball suspending spring training and pushing back the start of the regular season by at least two weeks on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, it’s not all that surprising to see more measures being taken less than four days later with more likely to come this week.

On the same day the above memo was sent to all 30 clubs, a Yankees minor-league player tested positive for COVID-19, leading the team to quarantine all of it’s minor-leaguers for two weeks while delivering food to their hotel rooms, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The fact that one player has tested positive is far from encouraging, as it could create a trickle-down effect similar to the one we’ve seen in the NBA since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for novel coronavirus this past Wednesday.

While Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said in a conference call Friday that no one in the organization has yet to test positive for the coronavirus at that time, he did acknowledge that he “feels a sense of inevitability” that someone within the organization will eventually test positive.

“We are preparing for that as an organization,” Kennedy said in regard to a Red Sox employee potentially testing positive. “If that happens, we’ll be ready with our own protocols and with Major League Baseball’s protocols.”

If something coronavirus-related does happen to the Red Sox in the coming days, I’ll make sure to have something about it on here. So, hopefully nothing happens, but if it does, stay tuned and remember to wash your hands.