BOSTON (CBS) — The fight to get baseball back was not much fun, but that’s over and now we can focus on a truly unique 2020 season. And with a 60-game schedule and some interesting new rules, the game is wide open.
That’s good news for the Red Sox, a team facing a rebuilding season. With Chris Sale on the shelf and Mookie Betts and David Price now in Los Angeles, the team is without an ace or a true star player. But Red Sox chairman Tom Werner is extremely excited and confident that the team could surprise many in a shortened 2020 season.
“What’s good about 60 games is that every game is important. Any team is capable of going on a 10-game winning streak and we’ve got some enormous talent on the team,” Werner told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Friday. “It’s a shame that Chris Sale isn’t playing, but I would compare the left side of our infield [with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts] to any any infield in baseball and J.D. Martinez is an outstanding DH. I like our chances.”
For baseball fans disinterested in the game following the months-long battle between players and owners, Werner believes they’ll be watching when players hit the diamond again.
“Baseball is really part of the fabric of our summers, our springs and we look forward to the rhythm of baseball. The negotiations by everybody’s point of view was more protractive than it could have been. But the bottom line is that we’re going to be seeing men on the field very shortly,” he said. “I think the labor challenges will be forgotten and hopefully we can talk about the great play on the field.
“I don’t know how you define summer without baseball. It’s part of the definitions in a dictionary,” he said.
A major concern remains regarding player safety, as the COVID-19 pandemic grips parts of the country. Werner says there are several protocols in place to protect players, and a handful of positive tests will not shut down the league when play resumes.
“There is going to be the occasional person who will have a positive test, and he will be asked to stay home in quarantine for a week or two. Hopefully there won’t be too many. I think a number of people say if there’s one positive or two positive test for club, then the whole enterprise should be abandoned. I think that’s draconian and we’ll just sort of see this as it plays out,” said Werner.
They are also exploring more ways to make Fenway Park safer for players when they return.
“[Team president] Sam [Kennedy] and I actually were walking around the clubhouse — obviously our clubhouse under normal circumstances is cramped, so we couldn’t really use that for the players. I think that we’ve got a bunch of different ideas,” he said. “At one point we were talking about kind of an Olympic Village in the concourse because the fans won’t be using the concourse, but we obviously have spent a lot of time doing what we think is in the very best interest of player safety. I’m looking forward to the players coming back, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate all the hard work that Sam and his team are doing.”
As Kennedy expressed earlier this week, Werner is also hoping to see fans inside Fenway Park at some point in the near future.
“Not a full Stadium, but maybe 5,000 fans might be able to be invited to Fenway Park,” he explained. “But that’s down the road.”