Giants players wary of coronavirus risks with baseball’s return in sight

The typical Giants spring training view, seen at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona on Feb. 18, will be harder to achieve in the smaller confines of Oracle Park, the site of their summer camp.


After weeks of bickering between the union and the league, with leaks upon leaks and the focus on dollar signs instead of catcher signs, major-league players finally know when they will reconvene for Spring Training 2.0 and prepare for a shortened 2020 season.

The players union announced on Twitter late Tuesday that it and Major League Baseball reached a deal on “all remaining issues” related to the health and safety plan they had been negotiating all day. Players will report to camp July 1, with Opening Day for a 60-game season July 23 or 24. The Giants will train at Oracle Park.

Several players reached by The Chronicle said they will be happy to get to work even at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking throughout the United States. The virus forced many big-league teams to close their camps last week amid a slew of positive tests.

“I fully expected that there were going to be positive tests and there will continue to be more as we get going,” outfielder Alex Dickerson said. “We just have to do our best to be careful and make sure we are doing the best we can to limit the spread of it as we go along.

“My main concern will be for any players and players’ families who are high risk. We will have to figure out a way to protect them.”

Austin Slater, the Giants’ union rep, struck a similar chord, saying that even with a strict health and safety plan, players will have to remain vigilant to protect themselves, teammates and their families.


“It’s going to have to come down to guys being mature adults and making the right decisions,” Slater said. “Collectively, as a unit of players, coaches, front office and staff, we’re going to have to be very conscious moving forward that everybody is doing their part.”

Shortstop Brandon Crawford admitted it will be “a little scary going back to work as these positive tests keep popping up, but I trust that we will all be doing our best to stay safe and healthy under the necessary protocols.”

The Giants closed their facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week after two people presented COVID-19 symptoms, but the team said Tuesday that their coronavirus tests came back negative. Out of caution, the Giants tested 20 others who spent time there with no virus positives.

Some 40 players and staffers at other big-league camps, where teams were allowing individual workouts, did test positive last week.

The players will return to the field under the agreement they reached with Major League Baseball on March 26, after rebuffing efforts by the league to renegotiate the terms.

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Monday that the 30 owners voted unanimously to implement a season after the Players Association executive board voted 33-5 to reject the league’s proposed 60-game season, which would have included expanded playoffs, a universal designated hitter and a few sundry financial incentives.

San Francisco Giants catcher Ricardo Genoves, right, talks with minor league coach Mario Rodriguez, left, during spring training baseball workouts for pitchers and catchers Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The players wanted a longer season and thus more salary. Under the March deal, they will get full prorated pay for 60 games, or about 37% of their contracts.

Slater would not reveal how he voted after Giants players held their own vote Sunday, but they were not believed to be among the five dissenters.


Slater said the 33-5 vote came down to players’ unwillingness to change the March deal without proof that the owners would lose as much money as they had claimed if they agreed to the longer season the players requested.

“If there had been more transparency on the league’s behalf on their financial situation, a deal could have been struck weeks ago,” Slater said. “Not knowing the actual scope of their financials, it was really hard to make a deal giving up so much to gain a few games.”

Henry Schulman covers the Giants for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @hankschulman



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