TAMPA, Fla. — Each day since Major League Baseball hit the pause button a week ago, DJ LeMahieu has steered his pickup truck into the players’ parking lot at George M. Steinbrenner Field, clinging to a rock-solid routine of hitting line drives and taking grounders in a time of great uncertainty.
“Personally, it keeps me sane,” LeMahieu said on Thursday. “It's nice to be able to come here and at least work out and do some baseball stuff. I'd be going crazy if I wasn't able to do that at least. We're doing that and they're making it as safe as possible for us in there. I think it's a good situation.”
When baseball cancelled the remainder of the Spring Training schedule on March 12, LeMahieu said that he spoke to his wife, Jordan, and their family about what the couple should do. LeMahieu decided that he would prefer to remain in camp with the Yankees, where numerous players continue to report for on-field activities and treatment.
“I don't really want to go home,” said LeMahieu, who lives near Detroit. “All the gyms are closed in Michigan, and it's cold. Kind of being able to be outside a little bit here and work out, I just think that's the best place to be right now.”
Other Yankees spotted at the Steinbrenner Field complex on Thursday included Miguel Andújar, Mike Ford, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman and special assistant Jim Hendry were among the executives on site.
“Giancarlo is doing great. He's getting really close to being ready as it is,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo show. “He's been hitting and running out in the field. He's pretty close. If we were to ramp up camp pretty soon, he's in there, pretty much. James Paxton started his throwing program about a week ago, and he's doing great. We're really encouraged with him.
“This is giving Aaron Judge time to allow that rib to heal. This time hopefully is something that allows that and we hopefully expect him back as well. And of course, Aaron Hicks is out there coming off of Tommy John surgery. That's more of a summertime return, but he's beginning his throwing program as well. Some major people for us are getting real close to being a part of things."
In recent days, Cashman has focused his attention on the Minor League side of camp, where several dozen players were self-quarantined in their apartments and hotels after two tested positive for the coronavirus. Those players are said to be improving. The Minor Leaguers are expected to be released from self-quarantine Wednesday, after which they will be encouraged to travel home, if possible.
"Brian Cashman and Kevin Reese, who runs our Minor Leagues, have spearheaded that and really done a great job of organizing and making sure those guys are fed,” said Boone, who drove from Florida to Connecticut this week in order to be with his family. “Those guys are cared for and those guys are doing what they need to do right now to make sure they're doing their part and trying not to spread this thing.”
On the big-league side, LeMahieu said that the Yankees are making the best of what he called “a serious situation that I don’t think anyone saw coming.”
“Everyone is wearing gloves and we're giving each other space,” LeMahieu said. “I think everyone kind of trusts that we're doing everything we can to stay safe. At the same time, we're trying to get a little bit of work in and stay in shape a little bit. I know the rehab guys are thankful that they can keep coming in and doing their thing.”
MLB has pushed the start of the regular season back at least eight weeks, and LeMahieu said that players are occupying some of their time by making guesses as to when Opening Day will be.
“We want to play as soon as possible, I know that,” LeMahieu said.