HOUSTON — Astros general manager James Click, who was hired in February to replace Jeff Luhnow, took some time Friday afternoon to talk to reporters about several topics concerning his team:
Q: Can you tell us how you’re communicating with the team at this point with the players being spread out, and what do you want them to do for the next few weeks as we wait to find out what’s going on with the coronavirus?
Click: Yeah, it’s a lot of phone calls. Pretty constant communication through trainers, through coaching staff, through other front office people who have relationships with these guys. I’m spending a fair amount of time on the phone with as many of them, and texting with as many of them, as I can. So far, they’re all doing a great job of keeping themselves in first-class physical condition and making sure they are ready to go whenever we can start this back up again. The goal for all of us is to maintain that state of readiness without getting too ramped up and without getting on the other side of it by getting too cooled down. It’s a tricky balance, but they’re professionals and as far as I know I think they’re all handling it great.
Q: Can you give us an update on Justin Verlander and where he’s at in his rehab (Verlander underwent right groin surgery around March 17 and was looking at a six-week recovery)?
Click: The last I heard, everything’s going great and he’s ready to get back out there as soon as he possibly can. I haven’t heard anything bad. As far as I know, he’s right on schedule and he’s recovering very well.
Q: Has anyone in your organization tested positive for coronavirus?
Click: No, so far we have not had any staff members or any members of the organization, to my knowledge, test positive for coronavirus.
Q: Can you elaborate on the challenges that any changes to the 2020 MLB Draft would present to you, especially not having a first or second-round pick in the next two years (as part of the punishment handed down by MLB in the wake of the sign-stealing investigation)?
Click: It’s something that we’re still assessing. In addition, it doesn’t sound like anything is finalized with regard to what the Draft is going to look like or when it’s going to be. We’re going to withhold any sort of conclusions about how that may affect our situation, in particular, until we know exactly what we’re going to be looking at when it comes to the Draft.
Q: Are there players going to Minute Maid Park and working out daily? How many players are doing that, if so?
Click: We have had the facility open with some aggressive screening and cleaning measures, to make sure we could keep the facility as clean as it could possibly be; however, with the [shelter-in-place] ordinance from the city of Houston, we have decided to shut that down for the time being.
Q: With the college baseball season shut down and high schools, as well, what are the challenges with scouting amateur players for the Draft?
Click: It’s a fascinating challenge. I don’t think any of us have ever been through something quite like this before. We are having some active brainstorming sessions to figure out how we can line up as much information as we have on players and try to line them up as best as possible. Obviously, we’re going to be operating in an environment where we don’t have the comfort of having been through a lot of these discussions before. But in a lot of ways, it could be an opportunity to rethink how we go about assessing these players and lining them up on the board.
Q: How did you spend Thursday, which was supposed to be your first Opening Day as GM?
Click: Like a lot of people, I spent it sheltering in place and trying to homeschool a couple of kids while trying to do my job at the same time. It was obviously a very busy day yesterday in baseball with the Players’ Association and Major League Baseball getting an agreement in place, and so a lot of the day yesterday was focused on those negotiations and making sure we know what's going on, and trying to figure out what we knew and what we didn’t know and what questions we needed to ask. But I definitely took a little time to watch some of the Opening Day at Home stuff and to remember that, at some point, we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get out there and watch some guys play some baseball and play it really well.