With the opening of the regular season pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty around baseball right now, from the impact the delay will have on players to the impact it will have on game-day employees.
On Tuesday, the Cardinals joined the other 29 Major League clubs in pledging $1 million each toward a fund for game-day staff who are expected to miss work as a result of the delayed season. The club also announced that it would honor the daily per diem for its nearly 200 Minor League players who were sent home from camp last week.
The per diem payments are about $25 per day for Minor League players in spring, and the Cardinals are exploring ways to help them beyond the previously scheduled end of Spring Training.
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. told reporters in Jupiter, Fla., early this week that the team was putting a plan in place to help those affected by this hiatus. On Wednesday, he and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak spoke in more detail about it on KMOX’s “Countdown to Opening Day” show.
“We sent our Minor League players home, just to not have them congregate in a big number, because that’s the kind of thing that can see the virus spread,” Dewitt Jr. said. “A lot of those players really don’t have much in the way of resources. Some of the younger guys are up-and-comers hoping to make it ultimately to the big leagues at some point. So we’re trying to soften the blow to them and keep that compensation they get every day, at least that part of it, even though they’re at home.”
The Cards’ Minor League camp opened on March 11. A day later, MLB suspended Spring Training, and on Friday, Minor Leaguers were sent home.
“They haven’t received a paycheck since last August or [the] first of September, and then you tackle that when they show up to camp, and then right away, we have to close camp,” Mozeliak said.
“But I assure you, we’re thinking about it and we want to do the right thing.”
The Cardinals are also still working out the details with the $1 million fund.
“We have a lot of part-time workers when the season starts, whether it’s part-time ushers or ticket takers,” DeWitt Jr. said. “Even those who work on a part-time basis on the grounds, between games and stuff. So we’ve committed $1 million to help soften the blow to that group, and hopefully we’ll pick back up sooner than we thought we could and it’ll all work out. But we’re in uncharted territory here.”
Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 26 and was initially delayed for a minimum of two weeks amid the rapid spread of the global pandemic. Subsequent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that halt gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks have pushed back the start of the 2020 season even further.