New York Yankees’ Adam Ottavino thinks having no fans in games will help the Astros

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

New York Yankees‘ reliever Adam Ottavino believes that the current stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic is actually helping the Houston Astros, who were found guilty of stealing signs back in 2017.

Ottavino, one of the Yankees’ highest leverage relievers, thinks the Astros are being let off the hook for what they did in 2017. The current coronavirus outbreak, and the negotiations between the league and the players’ association are taking all the headlines.

“I don’t think people are going to forget it, but I think it’s helping them because that was the story of spring training up until the virus,” Ottavino said Wednesday on “The No-Sports Report” podcast. “That was all day, every day. It was already to the point where it was exhausting. And, I think that once the season started, they were going to be in for a lot of hatred from fans around the country.”

The New York Yankees’ reliever doesn’t want you to forget

Ottavino, who didn’t have a particularly good first postseason with the Yankees even though he had a fantastic regular season, thinks that because fans likely won’t be able to attend 2020 games, they won’t show the team the treatment it deserves after what they did.

“So, to me, I think this is helping them, especially when they come back, there are definitely not going to be any fans in the stands,” the right-handed pitcher said. “So, I think that helps them. Some of (the Astros) have kind of come out of the cave and went back on social media, doing all their stuff, and, you know, good for them, power to them.”

Before COVID-19 took the scene as the hottest topic of the moment, the Astros did receive very negative feedback from players and fans alike around spring training. Some players even threatened to retaliate in the field given that they though the punishment that MLB handed was too soft.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Adam Ottavino, will he bounce back?

Adam Ottavino, the early years

The New York Yankees Adam Robert Ottavino was born on November 22, 1985. The 34-year-old was born to Eve and John Ottavino in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, New York. He attended elementary school at PS 39 where his mother was a teacher. Adam grew up playing baseball and being a Yankee fan. He played on childhood teams that his father coached. Adam loved baseball and dreamed of someday being a Yankee. He actually can be seen at Yankee Stadium with his Dad in full Yankee away uniform back when he was ten years old. He attended junior high school at The Bay Academy for the Arts and Sciences in Sheepshead Bay and graduated from the Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope in 2003.

Ottavino enters the minor leagues

Adam Ottavino was selected in the 30th round of the 2003 MLB draft when he was just eighteen, but he refused. Instead, he enrolled in Northeastern University, where he played for the Huskies baseball team. He holds the record single-season and career for most strikeouts at Northeastern He was named America East Conference’s Pitcher of the Year in 2005. During his time at Northeastern, he had to make the decision whether to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an actor or to pursue his first love of baseball. Luckily for the baseball world, he chooses the latter, but he could have been another Brad Pitt, but we will never know, will we?

Ottavino pitched for the Italian national baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He pitched three scoreless innings against Venezuela in his lone appearance in the tournament. After he graduated from Northeastern the St Louis Cardinals selected him in the 2009 MLB draft. He pitched for several Cardinal minor league teams but started the 2010 season pitching for the Memphis Cardinals. He was promoted to the bigs and pitched in three games as a starter. Because of his success, he again played for Memphis in 2011 being added to the 40 man Cardinal roster after the season.

On April 3, 2012, Ottavino was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies. He played in the minors briefly but was called up by the Rockies, where they developed him as a reliever. In 2013 Adam decided on a uniform number 0. In his first year, he pitched to an ERA of close to 5 but lowered that in his second year to just 2.67. After the Rockies lost their closer to LaTroy Hawkins, Ottavino was named Rockies closer. Shortly thereafter he suffered an injury that required Tommy John surgery that ended his 2015 season. He signed a new three-year contract after the 2015 season. In 2016 Adam recorded a Rockies franchise record by pitching 37 scoreless innings in relief. In 2018, he was 6–4 with a 2.34 ERA and shared the major league lead in holds with 34.

Adam becomes a Yankee

As a free agent after the season, the New York Yankees signed him to a three-year contract in January of 2019. Upon arriving at the Stadium he selected the number 0, the first time in history any Yankee has worn the number. Since a Yankee Ottavino has proven to be one of the Yankee’s most reliable relievers. He immediately blended in with the Yankee crew and became a fan favorite. So far with the Yankees, he is 6-5, with an ERA of 1.90 in 73 appearances with 88 strikeouts.

Ottavino started out strong for the New York Yankees in 2019, but late in September, something went south.  He stated that he felt good, but something was off.  His poor pitching continued in October.  During this shortened spring training, he demonstrated that he may have solved that problem. In brief work this spring, Ottavino, now 34, looked sharp in his two scoreless Grapefruit League outings, striking out three batters without a walk before the exhibition season was halted due to the COVID-19 crisis.  He hopes to help the Yankees get to a 28th World Championship.

Ottavino is married to his wife Brette and has two daughters, one of whom is named Bradley. Adam and his family still live in his childhood Brooklyn. His Mom still teaches at PS 39 and has Adam come back to his childhood school annually to speak to her class on working hard and dreaming big, and that anything can happen if you work for it. Ottavino will be an important part of the 2020 bullpen.

New York Yankees’ reliever Adam Ottavino is working hard to leave October memories behind

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino went from being one of the most dependable arms of the New York Yankees in the regular season to a seldom-used reliever who couldn’t find the strike zone in the American League Championship Series against the Astros last season.

As a result, Ottavino is currently trying to improve and is tinkering with his delivery. Fortunately, he has the will, the talent, the time, and the technological resources to use in order to achieve that goal. He wants to be consistently great.

He is currently with his family in his home outside New York City, trying to erase bad memories and create new, successful ones.

“I’ve been able to throw quite a bit and I’ve been able to throw off a mound and I have a gym in my basement,” Ottavino told MLB Network Radio on SirusXM, cited by the New York Daily News, “so I’ve been able to work out and take advantage of the nice days outside and do as much as I can to stay busy. The tricky part is not having a timeline.”

“You know baseball is one of the things you can always be working on something and every time I play catch to try to do with a purpose and try to get incrementally better.”

The Yankees need Ottavino and the super-bullpen

The New York Yankees still don’t know when they will take the field, as MLB hasn’t published an official date to start the season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

If the Yankees want to regain the crown that they haven’t been able to win since 2009, they will need Ottavino and the super-bullpen to come through.

The owner of a 1.90 regular-season ERA, the Yankees’ star signing prior to the 2019 season was having a terrific year. However, it all went south in the postseason. Yes, he pitched in eight of the Yankees’ nine games in October, but allowed three earned runs in 3.1 frames, with seven hits and three walks.

“The good news is I can’t be this bad forever,” Ottavino said last October after pitching to an 8.10 ERA and .389 batting average against in eight postseason games.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone checks on Adam Ottavino and Gerrit Cole’s respective programs

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

By now, the New York Yankees were supposed to be playing official MLB games. However, due to concerns about the coronavirus’ outbreak that has killed thousands of people around the world, the league decided to follow CDC’s recommendations and suspend its activities indefinitely.

While MLB and the players’ association are seeking several avenues for baseball to return this year, it is unclear if medical and public health officials will allow it, and it is not a given that minimal conditions for the safety of players, fans and staffers are met. For now, the Yankees and the other 29 teams are patiently waiting.

Meanwhile, New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone keeps doing his job: managing the team. Lately, he spoke about the health of James Paxton, Aaron Judge and other injured stars, providing hope that they can be healthy whenever the season starts.

He is at home with his family, according to MLB.com, but Boone has also occasionally joined hurlers Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino to help them in their respective programs. In fact, both pitchers threw bullpen sessions with the manager on Wednesday.

Basically, Boone is monitoring the “offseason” activities of his players. He is helping them stay sharp in case the season starts relatively soon, which is a possibility.

“They’re both doing really well,” Boone said. “Physically, they’re in a good place as far as workload and keeping their arms going. It’s putting them in a good position once we get going.”

The Yankees’ skipper is taking advantage of Zoom calls

The Yankees’ manager also stated he has been busy getting in touch with everybody in the organization, including players, through Zoom calls. The communication has been very active in the last month.

Boone explained that the Yankees had a rather large call last week with several players taking part, in addition to coaches, strength and conditioning staff and front-office personnel. According to the Yankees’ on-field leader, it was a “casual, fun call,” that offered players a chance to ask questions and share their progress.

“It was a little bit of a state of the union, I guess, from my standpoint,” Boone said. “It was more a chance for guys to get on and just talk smack to one another, see how everyone’s doing, see everyone — which I think was cool for everyone. I know they have their different FaceTime and video game things they do together, but it was good to get on and see those guys, and have Tommy [Kahnle] come in and be silly on there.”

New York Yankees News: Do you like Grapefruit? Cactus, or Oranges instead?, and more

New York Yankees take shot at Trevor Rosenthal.

What kind of baseball season will there be, more questions than answers

The New York Yankees ponder several plans to get baseball going in this coronavirus environment.  MLB has been floating several ideas/plans, which will finally go into effect is anyone’s guess at this point.  One play has all 30 MLB teams playing all game within a 50-mile radius of Pheonix, Arizona.  Another plan has games split between Arizona and Florida, and there is even a plan to realign what teams play what teams, which would resemble the teams the Yankees play against in the Grapefruit league.

The Arizona Plan

The first plan that MLB put out was a plan to play all of baseball in and around the Pheonix Arizona area.  The logic was this was one of the least affected areas for the coronavirus.  All 30 MLB teams would play at the domed Chase Field home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10 minor league open-air fields, plus a few selected college fields.  This would be a logistical nightmare that would see lots of doubleheaders and even tri-headers at the retractable Chase Field.

Several New York Yankee players have said they are not loving it but would be in favor of such a plan.  Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino recently said:

“I’ve seen [the Arizona idea],” Ottavino said. “I don’t have any good insight, but I would be in the camp of supporting the idea. I’m sure a lot would have to go right for it to actually happen but I’m hoping it can work because I want to play.”

Yankee back up catcher Kyle Higashioka released a second statement during the delay from his Oregon home:

“I’m still working out, still taking batting practice on my father-in-law’s grass field. Still doing the blocking drills, as well, with the help of my wife Alyse. I don’t want to get out of playing shape because we still need to be ready if we’re called upon so we can play.”

His agent filled him in on the “Arizona plan,” and he gave his thoughts on the playing, saying he didn’t understand the logistics of it all.

“I’d be glad just to play baseball at all. I’d be grateful for the opportunity to have even a partial season. It would give fans something to look forward to.”  He further inicated that ” I’m not going to start training harder. I’m already at that level that I need to be at. I’m just kind of waiting.”

The Arizona/Florida Plan

Another plan that was floated but didn’t seem to be gaining much traction is to play games in both Arizona and Florida, much like what happens in spring training.  Teams would still play in their traditional divisions.  The difference from the regular years is that teams would be stationed in those locations, reducing the need for extensive air travel that could put teams and players at increased risk.

MLB realignment and how it affects the Yankees

MLB has also floated a plan to turn the baseball world on its head by changing the teams that would play each other.  For the New York Yankees, it would mean that traditional rivals, Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, would not be played against unless in some type of postseason contest.

Under the plan, the New York Yankees would regularly play against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Detroit Tigers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  This would be called the Grapefruit League North.  Grapefruit South would be the Red Sox, Twins, Braves, Rays, and Orioles.  East would be the Nationals, Astros, Mets, Cardinals, and Marlins.  In a postseason, it is likely that the winners of the three Grapefruit Leagues would play each other in the postseason, and the Grapefruit League Champ would face the Winner of the Cactus League instead of the traditional National League vs. American League.

This writer does not believe this will happen as it will be a significant departure from traditional seasons and would not save that much in the air time to protect players. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.  I believe it is questionable as to how the season will start, but It most likely will look very different in any second half of the season, which may see games played in baseball teams’ home parks.  Everything depends on the coronavirus and health official guidelines.

Other possible Yankee baseball changes we may see!

Along with where games will be played, MLB is looking at instituting some new ideas to both shorten games and making them more efficient.  We may see the electronic strike zone, that has already been briefly tested in both college and minor leagues.  MLB my restrict mound visits from the catcher and pitching coaches to zero.  Seven inning doubleheaders to get more games in.  Players may sit in empty stands six feet apart and avoid the close contact of the dugout.  A plus for TV viewers is that players may regularly use on-field microphones.  A minus for the media is that the availability of players may be highly restricted.

One thing that now appears to be real is a baseball season that will be played in some form as health officials make it more clear that they see the coronavirus subsiding some.  Over the weekend, Dr. Fauci (administration coronavirus adviser) delivered good news saying that by May, the economy should slowly be able to get going again, and social distancing restrictions could be relaxed to an extent.  This makes a baseball season in some form more likely than in previous weeks.

With so many questions still to be answered, the good news is that with the apparent loosening of restrictions upcoming that by the end of this month, we should know much more as to what the season will look like and as to how many games will be played.

Is the Yankees’ bullpen strong enough to survive another injury plagued season?

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

The New York Yankees survived a problematic 2019 because of their bullpen, but what happened if injuries mount again?

In 2019, the Yankees dealt with some of the most consistent and nagging injuries, which hampered their ability to feature their starting pitching rotation and field position players.

The outfield was thrashed entirely by injury, forcing manager Aaron Boone to supplement the missing starters with alternatives like Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, and Cameron Maybin.

The starting rotation, though, is the most problematic of the bunch. The lack of a true ace significantly hurt the team in earlier innings, forcing them to utilize Chad Green as a specific opener.

Losing Luis Severino for the entire 2019 campaign, aside from a few games in the postseason, certainly hurt their overall record and performance. Luckily, the bullpen compensated immensely for the loss of Severino and several other starters. Jordan Montgomery is another arm that was unable to pitch as he recovered from Tommy John.

Arms like Chad green, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Nestor Cortez Jr., Tommy Kahnle, and more were asked to pitch more frequently than anticipated. Ultimately, they were the reason the Yankees reached 103 wins and skipped over the wildcard round into a series against the Minnesota Twins.

The big question facing the Bronx Bombers this year is: will the bullpen be able to supplement the loss of Severino and more injuries again? The reality of the team is that they are unable to avoid picking up incremental ailments, as multiple pitchers have already suffered injuries before Grapefruit League play. James Paxton was forced into surgery to remove a cyst in his lower back, and Severino already succumbed to Tommy John surgery, which will keep him out of the entire 2020 campaign.

The only bullpen arms the Yankees lost this off-season were Cortez Jr. and Dellin Betances, indicating that they have plenty of talent remaining to hold the team over if injuries continue to mount. However, having additional ammo at the trade deadline to acquire a bullpen arm is one way the Yanks can help bolster the roster later on during the season.

Yankees and Mets players share their thoughts about the possibility of playing all games in Arizona

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

New York Yankees and New York Mets‘ players are surely missing baseball and everything that is related to a normal baseball season. After all, by this time, they were supposed to be playing big league games in the highest of competitions.

However, the current, ongoing coronavirus outbreak forced professional leagues, including MLB, to halt their operations and suspend games indefinitely. There is, as of now, no set date for the season to begin.

Despite the pandemic not being fully under control, MLB and the players’ association are currently discussing, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the possibility of playing all games in Arizona, with fans in the stand and some social distancing recommendations. That would allow the Yankees, the Mets and the other 28 teams, to begin the season in May.

That idea, however, represents several logistics challenges. Arizona would have to accommodate hundreds of players, staffers, game-day workers, broadcast staff, coaches, managers and team employees for months.

Mets’ and Yankees’ players weigh in

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, at least one Mets’ player is not so thrilled with the idea of playing all games in Arizona.

“One Mets player who asked not to be identified has concerns about the idea of 30 teams playing an entire summer in Arizona: ‘It’s the desert,’ he said. ‘Stuff doesn’t live there, it dies there,'” Puma wrote in his official Twitter account.

On the other hand, we have a testimony of a New York Yankees’ player, thanks to Joel Sherman. Adam Ottavino, one of the team’s highest-profile relievers, said he would be on board if MLB and the MLBPA decided to play all games in the desert.

“I’ve seen it (the Arizona idea). I don’t have any good insight but I would be in the camp of supporting the idea. I’m sure a lot would have to go right for it to actually happen but I’m hoping it can work because I want to play,” the pitcher said.

Colorado Rockies’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado also gave the thumbs up to the idea. He told Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, “If it’s safe, I’m in.”

New York Yankees: The Rocky Road to Arizona, Temps, Cactus, and other obstacles

The New York Yankees may become the Pheonix Yankees if the MLB has its way.  That is if the idea worked out between Federal Health officials and MLB comes to fruition.  This writer feels this is ill-thought on the part of MLB.  The most significant obstacle to playing in Arizona is the temperature. The average temperature in May is 94, in June 104, and in July 106 degrees.

These temperatures are only averages; many days, the temperature goes to 120 degrees and higher.  And that’s not to mention the Monsoons that start in June bringing more heat, humidity, thunderstorms, hail, and flooding.  The proposal would use the domed Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, ten minor league venues, plus some college fields in and around the Pheonix area.  To get a still shortened season in for 30 MLB teams, you would see two, and maybe three games played in the same stadium each day.  To get this accomplished seems to be a very rocky road.

No matter what MLB comes up with to get in a season, there will be obstacles to be overcome no matter where they are held, that is a foregone conclusion.  The plan also calls for games at least at the start to be played without fans and with greatly reduced revenues, which is another issue that will surely have to be resolved by MLB and the players association.  Even with television revenues, MLB teams will take a hit, which will have to be shared with New York Yankee and other team’s players.

It is highly doubtful that owners of these playing fields will allow play without being compensated for the use of the fields.  There are a multitude of issues that must be resolved before play can be resumed anywhere.  For me, the biggest issue can’t be resolved, and that is playing a game in an open-air stadium with beating sun, in 120-degree temperatures that are only tolerated by snakes and cactus.

New York Yankees pitcher Adam Ottavino had this to say about the plan:

“I’ve seen [the Arizona idea],” Ottavino said. “I don’t have any good insight, but I would be in the camp of supporting the idea. I’m sure a lot would have to go right for it to actually happen but I’m hoping it can work because I want to play.”

“That’s hell” is how one New York Met described what could be ahead for players if the plan presently being presented by MLB that would include playing all games in Arizona is enacted.

“I mean we’re talking 120 degrees every day and playing weekly doubleheaders and 20 days straight,” the Met player continued.

Although a poll of all players has not been taken, most seem in favor of the plan just to get to play ball and get paid, regardless of the difficulties of pulling it off.  In a perfect world, the games would start in Arizona and then be moved to home stadiums when it is safe to do so, although that isn’t mentioned in the plan that I have seen.

Kansas City Royals reliever Trevor Rosenthal was interviewed by the New York Post and had this to say:

“I am in support of the plan,” Rosenthal said. “I think it’s in the best interest of the nation for MLB to go through with this plan as quickly as possible. It will provide us an opportunity to inspire and set an example for everyone. By us adhering to strict new guidelines, we will display a model for isolation and function for businesses across the nation. We are at war and this is what we can do to help fight for our country. Provide the hope and discipline needed to get through this difficult time.

“Baseball players are the most resilient of all athletes to answer this call. The ups and downs, failures and successes, the unknowns, are all constant in our profession. This is our chance to work for the good of our people and set our country out in front of the rest.”

Rosenthal is probably the biggest advocate for the plan and is willing to overlook the many hurdles to enacting the plan.  Other players cite the temperatures, housing, and being away from there families for very long durations.  Safety for the Yankees is another factor in the early start.  Maricopa County, where these games would be played, has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the state.  The present stats in the county are about 1,500 cases with 31 deaths in a county, with just over 4 million residents.

Arizona health officials predict that the peak for COVID-19 deaths will come on April 23rd at 17 deaths per day.  Further, they predict that May 28th will be the first day with no deaths.  The MLB plan most likely has chosen Arizona for the games as the coronavirus situation where New York Yankees Grapefruit league games in Florida are played is much worse and would require a still later start time for games.

This writer only sees the Arizona plan working if games are played there for a very short time and can be moved back to MLB home stadiums as soon as possibly safe.  The later games have to be played in Arizona, the worse the environmental factors become.  Moving games back to home stadiums would also allow teams to recoup some of their revenue losses.

 

The New York Jets and Giants are embarking on a virtual NFL Draft experience in 2020

New York Jets

The NFL is preparing to embark on a virtual representation of the Draft, and it’s going to be a wild experience. Especially for the New York Jets and Giants!

The 2020 NFL draft will be different than any other draft for the New York Jets and Giants and the NFL. Roger Goodell won’t be shaking Joe Burrow’s hand and taking a picture as he holds up the Bengals jersey. There won’t be a war room filled with GMs, scouts, and coaches; instead, Joe Douglas and Dave Gettleman will likely be on Zoom with their staff. This is a drastic change, but with the current state of the world, it’s not the least bit surprising.

The NFL Trudges On

League personnel and many NFL analysts believe the decision to go forward with the draft is a heavily controversial one. Adam Schefter even said on ESPN that, “They are determined to put this on while there is carnage in the streets.” The league is determined to move forward and adapt to the continually changing conditions of our world and put on the draft. Now this year’s draft is less spectacle and more Fantasy Football. Let’s just hope nobody auto picks their draft.

In all seriousness, the NFL is providing a distraction for the country in these wild times, but at what cost? The players don’t get to celebrate with the commissioner and enjoy the recognition they’ve fought for so long to earn. The players can’t even enjoy the moment with extended family without disobeying CDC guidelines. The players are being deprived of the joy associated with achieving their childhood dreams of being drafted. It leads many to wonder if there would be more joy associated with the draft had it been postponed.

In the end, there’s going to be a draft. There’s going to be trades and the usual wall to wall coverage. The social aspect of the draft and the festival-like atmosphere that was prominent in Nashville last year is gone. Instead, the world will watch from home as Joe Burrow gets the call to achieve his NFL dreams from home, along with every other prospect as they celebrate while following CDC guidelines. 

New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino’s “backyard baseball” is helping them stay in shape

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, which has all the baseball industry fearing that there may not be a season at all in 2020. However, there is some optimism that games could be played within the next couple of months, at some point. For now, the New York Yankees and the rest of the league are on an extended break.

Yet, some Yankees’ players are still working out and staying in shape. Such is the case of pitchers Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino, who are, according to the New York Post, seemingly keeping each other company during the hiatus.

Cole, of course, was signed this offseason to a record-shattering, 9-year deal worth $324 million. Ottavino already has a season’s worth of innings in the Bronx.

Cole told the Post that he has been working out his arm with the help of Ottavino, manager Aaron Boone and catcher Radley Haddad. The reliever posted a series of pictures over the weekend of Cole throwing a bullpen session in one of the two’s backyard.

Yankees’ backyard baseball

The post had the words “Backyard baseball,” written by the 34-year-old reliever as a caption. According to Cole, has has been “hunkered down” with his pregnant wife, Amy, in their new Connecticut residence. That’s not far from Ottavino and his family live.

“Staying on my regimented workout routine here at my residence,” Cole said. “Being able to stay in that routine has been beneficial. Trying to keep the pilot light on like other players and being as ready as we can be when we are called back to being able to play.”

Ottavino said that while the “backyard baseball” thing isn’t the same as regular-season work, it has helped him stay in shape and avoid losing all the progress he made in spring training. Hey, there’s not much more he can do given the circumstances!

The season won’t start this month and May isn’t a realistic option either, so “backyard baseball” may be all that this pair have for now.

 

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backyard baseball// @gerritcole45

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