New York Yankees News: Zack Britton talks about a season without fans

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

The New York Yankees relief pitcher Zack Britton is talking about what it’s like to play in a stadium with no fans. He knows what it’s like to play in that atmosphere; he pitched in a game when he was with the Baltimore Orioles with no fans in the stands.  On April 29, 2015, the Orioles played the Chicago White Sox. It was a game that made history because it was the very first game in MLB history to be played with no fans in the stands.

In April of that year, there was civil unrest that caused protesters to fill the streets, and there were fears about public safety in the city due to the controversy caused by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody. Oriole Stadium at Camden Yards was closed to Oriole fans.

“When I played in the no-fan game in Baltimore and it was something that I remember directly saying, ‘I hope I never have to do this again,’ ”

Zack Britton spoke those words in a Zoom call from New York’s Yankee Stadium yesterday. Britton was working out at the Stadium and going through coronavirus testing just one day before the start of summer camp 2.0. He spoke about talking to other Yankee players about playing in that empty stadium and what it felt like. He added that it would be a topic of conversation in the days to come as well.  He also mentioned that the team that can adjust best to this new environment might be the team that is most successful during the coronavirus pandemic tainted season.

“I think the team that can self-motivate the best is going to be the team that comes out on top. I honestly do believe that it might not be the most talented team this year. I think it will be the guys who come to the ballpark and not be relying on the adrenaline that the atmosphere would give you but be able to self-motivate and accomplish what they want to accomplish. I truly believe it is going to be that team that wins it.’’

He continued to speak about how the New York Yankees could be that team with its mix of young, dynamic players and veterans that have played in all circumstances. But he also said that its difficult to predict how players will play in a stadium that is more like a funeral home.

“That’s a tough question. I do believe we have the guys who can do it. We have guys who have played at a top level for a long time,’’ said Britton, who fits in that group. “The more I have been around those types of players the more I realize those are the guys who can self-motivate, guys that can maintain a performance level throughout the course of a season at a high level. I am hopeful our team is that team that can do it. I will have a better feeling for that once we get into that environment but my gut reaction is that we are going to be fine.’’

Britton has chosen to leave his family at home in back in Austin, Texas as a safety measure, saying that if things improve later in the season he may bring them to New York.

The New York Yankees have a big plus going for them this year that just might make a big difference.  That plus is Gerrit Cole that became the Yankees pitching ace when he signed a $324 million contract to play for the Yankees for the next nine years.  Cole is a veteran that can lead the team out of the coronavirus funk.  Cole, with his enthusiasm, will automatically become a team leader just as CC Sabathia was.

There is no question that it will be a challenge playing without the motivation of fans cheering in the stands, but if any team can do it, the Yankees can. All of the Yankees players are motivated to getting to that 28th World Championship.

New York Yankees: Some players are prioritizing health and will leave families behind during season

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

For MLB players, baseball is a way of life. They only imagine themselves playing, and so far, it has been enough not only to have fun in the process, but also, to put food on their families’ table. They don’t want to do anything else other than play the game, but they also want to protect their loved ones. That’s why some New York Yankees‘ players will leave their families behind as they rejoin the team for the short season.

After months of failed negotiations between the MLB and the players association, the league had to mandate a 60-game season that will start in late July. However, the common enemy still isn’t going away: coronavirus is actually spiking in some crucial states where baseball will be played this year.

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com explained how several members of the New York Yankees team will opt to travel to New York without the support and love of their families to protect them from the virus. For example, relief pitcher Zack Britton and his wife Courtney decided that it would be best if she and the kids stayed home in Texas when the lefty reports to the Yankees.

“It could be three months before I see my kids,” he said to NJ.com.

Yankees’ backup catcher feels the same way

Catcher Kyle Higashioka is in a similar situation. His wife Alyse will stay home in Oregon for a while, then fly to “join me at the at some point down the line. But I’m heading out alone first.”

Training camps will open next week, on July 1st.

“A lot of players feel the same way,” Britton said. “A lot of guys are going to go for an extremely long time without seeing their kids and obviously it’s not fun. A lot of people in other professions are in the same boat as us, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

On Wednesday, some states, including New York, issued a travel advisory saying that if they come from states with high rates of COVID-19, they should quarantine for two weeks. The New York Yankees and Mets would be exempt, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Yankees: A COVID-19 baseball season, all the news in one place

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

How will COVID-19 affect this shortened baseball season?

The New York Yankees are making there way to Yankee Stadium in the shadow of the coronavirus.  With the virus raging in many parts of the country it’s anyone’s guess if the season can be completed.  Over 40 positive virus tests have already been reported across the MLB teams.  The Philadelphia Phillies lead in that total with seven staff infected, three of which are players.  The Yankees have reported only four cases; none are players.

Additional positive tests are bound to show up. MLB officials have not made it public as what would happen if a team becomes heavily infected. If that happens, it could shut down a team.  What effect that would have on other teams and the season is unknown.

As an example, in Connecticut, the Travelers Golf Championship is being held this week. Most of the players and their caddies arrived at the course on Monday, as of Thursday morning five players have had to drop out. One player has tested positive; two players had to drop out when their caddie’s tested positive and two other because a family member has tested positive. One dropped out on Monday and Tuesday and three just yesterday. However, the tournament will be played.

Zack Britton on the health and safety protocols

The New York Yankees assumed setup man Zack Britton has stated that he feels that Major League Baseball has their priorities straight.  He is satisfied with the health protocols that have been put in place.  He, as well as all of the Yankees, are ready to take the field.

“I am anxious to see how it all works out. I think we are taking the appropriate steps regarding health protocols,’’ Britton wrote in an email to The New YorkPost on Wednesday. “Obviously, with only 60 games, the season will feel a lot different, but I am excited we are playing again.’’

The New York Yankees and Mets won’t be affected by tri-state quarantine rules

Yesterday the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut agreed to a joint quarantine requirement from anyone entering those states that are coming from a state that has ten in one hundred thousand rates of coronavirus infection. That includes states like Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, the Carolinas, and other southern states.

The mandate is that anyone coming from those states by any mode of travel will have to self-quarantine for fourteen days.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated yesterday that the quarantine would not affect the New York Yankees or Mets.  He stated the reason for the exclusion was that he and health officials had already worked out an agreement with the New York teams.  Missing from the statement was if it applied to other teams traveling to play in New York Stadiums, however, one would have to assume it does.

What do the Yankee fans think about this shortened season?

There are some New York Yankee fans that would rather see this season canceled altogether.  They are in the minority as most fans want to see a baseball season this year and have been starved waiting to see the boys of summer take the field.

Yesterday across five Yankee fan groups on Facebook I conducted a poll to find out what Yankees fans felt about a season and if it could be completed during the coronavirus pandemic.  6% feel the coronavirus will cause the second half of spring training to be canceled.  9% responded who cares it’s not a legitimate season. 19% believe the season will be completed and the Yankees will be World Champions again.  But a resounding number, 66% of Yankee fans believe that the season will not be completed due to the virus.

The Yankee bullpen will see expanded use this season

When any baseball season starts it takes several games beyond spring training for stating pitchers to build up arm strength.  With a season that may only feature ten to twelve starts, they won’t be at full strength when the season starts on July 23rd.

Manager Aaron Boone will rely heavily on the bullpen at the start of the season.  Usually, a manager tries not to do that so that the bullpen is fresh going into the postseason.  Boone, will not have to worry about that this year as the season will be 20 games short of a half-season.  He will have the luxury of using the bullpen as much as he wants.

Boone will be especially careful of letting new Yankee ace Gerrit Cole go too deep in early games.  Boone will want Cole to be fresh and at his best going into the postseason where he is expected to be a significant factor in the Yankee’s success.

Blue Jays face additional hurdles to start a season

The Players Association has informed players agents that they are petitioning the Canadian government to allow them to have a baseball season in Canada.  They expect to get an answer today or tomorrow.  Once the get that that permission, they have to get permission to play at Roger’s Center, their home park in Toronto.  That permission is expected to take a few days.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: The truth about Gary Sanchez, Zack Britton, Yankee workers and more

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez is 5th best out of 30 MLB catchers!

The New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is one of the most controversial players on the Yankee team.  You either believe he is the best thing since sliced bread or you think he is a big flop.  Those that overlook his defensive woes cite his big bat and frequent home runs.  Those that aren’t big fans of the muscled backstop his fragile body that is subject to far too many injuries and his lack of range causing him to have many passed balls.

2016 and 2017 were really good years for the New York Yankee, during those years most fans saw what they thought would be the Yankee catching start for the next decade.  Then came a disastrous season for the catcher.  2018 was filled with injuries, and when he would return from the IL, he would go long stretches unable to hit the ball.  He had 18 passed balls and only batted.186.  He roared back in 2019 hitting a  career-high 34 home runs while only having seven passed balls.

The truth about Gary Sanchez is that although he goes through droughts hitting the ball, he is the most powerful catcher in the league.  He has a bullet of an arm that accurately led to nearly 800 put outs.  Even though he is injury prone, his 34 home runs while playing only 125 games, indicates his power.  The truth is that as of March 31st, MLB lists Sanchez as the fifth-best catcher in all of baseball. That puts the New York Yankee catcher ahead of the catchers for the other 25 MLB teams.

Zack Britton’s okay with whatever baseball looks like

Zack Britton and other Yankees players are okay with whatever baseball looks like this shortened season.  They will play in front of empty stands and will play in neutral sites if need be, just as long as the can have a baseball season.  Britton speaking with XM’s MLB Radio Network said:

“All on the same page to play as many games as we possibly can. Obviously we could possibly be a team that needs to play in a neutral site for a little while because New York has been such a hotbed for this [coronavirus]. Guys are open to that. I know there’s sites they’ve already discussed,” Britton said. “I’m not sure if I should say, but there are possibly four or five sites that are up in the air that Major League Baseball and the union have slightly discussed that these are spots that have the resources and facilities and the hotels to host a major league team if we get to that point.”

Britton a New York Yankees star reliever also anticipates regular season baseball games to be played in October.

“I think the big thing for us is keeping the season and using that month of October for regular-season games through that month of October in a perfect world, obviously, and seeing where we are with expanded playoffs after that,” Britton said. “I know we’ll have those talks pretty soon. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter till the virus gets under control and cities and people are able to go back to everyday lives, let alone watching baseball.”

Yankee workers also get financial aide

The New York Yankee organization announced a $1.4 million “distress” fund to help Yankee stadium workers affected by the coronavirus.  The needs-based initiative does have some strings attached.  Number one is that you had to have worked at least 100 hours during the 2019 season to be eligible.

Aid will be given on a need basis and is for all Yankee stadium workers, including security, hospitality, and concession workers.  Workers must list out bills and expenses over the next 30 days, specifically rent, transit, food, utilities, and a field marked as “other.” Staffers can upload bills and invoices to further demonstrate their worthiness for relief aid.  The aide is not a replacement for payroll checks that won’t be received.

The Yankee released the news on it’s Twitter account:

New York Yankees COVID-19 Disaster Relief Program” will reimburse or pay some workers’ coronavirus-related expenses, including for “funeral needs.” However, the fund will not provide “wages, income replacement, or continuation of compensation or employee benefits” for their workers unable to earn a paycheck while the league is on hiatus until late-May at the earliest.

Other Yankee news in summary

New York Yankee pitching ace Gerrit Cole is at his home in Greenwich, CT, and is staying in from by pitching to this athlete wife Amy and neighbor Yankee manager Aaron Boone.   Another Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has returned to his home in Japan during the hiatus.  The MLB has recently listed Yankee Gleyber Torres as the 12th best shortstop in baseball, mostly due to his power hitting.  They also cite his dismal defense at both second and particularly at short.   Montefiore Medical Center doctor receives a safety packet that included a Yankee rain poncho in place of a protective gown. David Hale a veteran Yankee reliever has been released by the Yankees.

New York Yankees: Five Interesting Facts About Zack Britton

Zack Britton is entering his third season as a member of the New York Yankees after coming over in a trade from the Orioles in 2018. Here are five interesting facts about the 32-year-old lefty:

1. Near-Death Experience

In his freshman year of high school, Britton dove for a ball in baseball in practice and landed on concrete. He suffered brain damage and spent time in the ICU, but wound up being ok in the end.

2. Drafted Out Of High School

Britton was selected in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Weatherford High School in Texas. He was offered a scholarship to play for Texas A&M but turned it down to pursue professional ball.

3. A Baseball Family

Britton has a brother named Buck, who was also drafted by the Orioles but in 2008. He has managed the Delmarva Shorebirds and now manages the Bowie Baysox, both minor league affiliates of the Orioles.

4. Dominican Origin

Britton’s mother’s family is actually of Dominican descent. However, Britton does not speak any Spanish. His father’s family is German and Irish.

5. American League Staple

Ever since 2015, Britton has been a huge staple in the American League. He’s earned the reputation of being one of the best relievers in the game. He has the AL record for most converted saves in a row at 60 between 2015-2017 with the Orioles. He’s also a two-time all-star and was the 2016 reliever of the year. He was so dominant in 2016 that he even finished fourth in CY Young voting. Pretty impressive for a reliever.

New York Yankees: 2 week late start in the rear-view mirror, when will the season start?

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

The New York Yankees, along with the rest of MLB, are wondering the same question.  When will baseball season start, or will it start at all?  The answer to that question really depends on how the COVID-19 progresses and how many people will be affected.  The other big question is, will the virus subside like the common flu and not become an even bigger problem.

As it stands now for the Yankees, minor league players at the training complex near the major league spring training complex in Tampa, Florida, are hunkered down in quarantine as now two minor league players have tested positive for the coronavirus know as COVID-19.  Earlier in the week, Charleston River Dog player Denny Larrondo was diagnosed and is already recovering while being quarantined.  Now a second unknown player has tested positive.

As far as the major league New York Yankees players, they have not come in contact with any of the minor league players who typically don’t take part in any workouts at George M. Steinbrenner field where the Yankees work out and train.  At this point, most of the major league team is in place at the complex.  However, the Yankee front office has said that players should be where they are most comfortable.

New York Yankees players, however, voted unanimously to remain in Tampa and conduct informal workouts.  This writer feels that this makes no sense.  The season is at least eight weeks away.  If players remain working out and training, they will be tired out before the season really starts.  Players can go home if it’s safe to do so and return two weeks ahead of the season to get ready.

Yesterday Aaron Boone loaded into his silver Mercedes and headed back to his home in Greenwich, CT, to be with his children as they adapt to schooling online.  He that he wanted to be part of that and be with his family.  On the other hand, General Manager Brian Cashman said that he will remain in Tampa along with the training and conditioning staff.  Pitcher, player representative Zack Britton said:

“We have a shot at a World Series title,” Yankees pitcher Zack Britton, the club’s player rep, told MLB.com. “We want to be prepared to seize that opportunity. Guys aren’t panicking about this thing. We understand that it’s serious, but the Yankees have a ton of resources in the area. We feel like this is a good place for us to be.”

From the training complex in Tampa Brian Cashman reported on the uncertainty of the unprecedented situation said;

“The players have been fantastic,” Cashman said. “There’s no script here that we can all fall back on and rely upon. I think there’s a recognition of that there’s a lot of unknowns, so there’s a lot of really cool conversations about suggestions. There’s a lot of collaboration.

“We’ve tried to map out the best next steps, and we all recognize it’s going to take a lot of give and take, with understanding and compassion and empathy along the way.”

Meanwhile, the Yankee fans wonder when and if the game they love will restart, and if it does, will it be in front of empty stands?  Will it be in foreign parks away from coronavirus clusters?  There is so much that we don’t know about the virus and how it will affect the baseball season.  For the time being, anxious fans will just have to bide their time and hope for the best.  Both for baseball and their family, friends, and neighbors as we negotiate this difficult time in our nation.

Meanwhile, if you want to be more a part of the Yankee family, join me on Facebook in the Yankee Fans R US!! group.  There you will find a friendly, respectful group of Yankee fans, the latest information, and Yankee chat.  Come join me there by clicking on this link.  Yankee Fans R US!!

A Delayed Start To Season Helps The New York Yankees

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

To the dismay of baseball fans around the world, the MLB is shutting spring training down and delaying the start of the regular season due to the coronavirus outbreak. They follow suit of the NBA, NHL, MLS, NCAA, and others in suspending play.

However, the delay to the season will actually benefit the New York Yankees.

Going into today (3/12), the Yankees were getting killed again with injuries. Aaron Judge has a stress fracture on his right rib that he is slowly getting healed. Gary Sanchez has been sick the last week with a strong case of the flu, and Giancarlo Stanton has been dealing with a calf strain.

On the pitching side of things, Zack Britton got drilled by a comebacker on Wednesday in the wrist. Fortunately, he suffered just a deep bruise and will eventually be ok. However, James Paxton is still on the mend from surgery, removing a back cyst.

The suspension could give the team a chance to be almost completely healthy once Opening Day comes. Now, the season could begin in the middle of April, or it could even be early summer once we get going. The longer it is until the season starts, the more time players will need to get ready.

Although players will stay at camp, they still need more at-bats, especially against other pitchers. So I would assume that the league would eventually schedule scrimmages or exhibitions of some type once there is a set Opening Day.

But for right now, all we can do is wait everything out. Hopefully, the suspensions of all leagues won’t last particularly long. However, that’s all dependent on how healthy the nation is as a whole, and whether public officials believe it is safe to begin to play again.

New York Yankees’ Zack Britton suffers wrist injury

New York Yankees, Zach Britton

The New York Yankees can’t catch a break, as relief arm Zack Britton suffered a wrist injury that came back negative on MRIs. With Luis Severino already missing the entire 2020 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery and James Paxton missing several months with a cyst in his lower back, the Yankees pitching corps is quickly being torn apart by the injury bug.

The injury to Britton’s wrist doesn’t seem to be anything too serious, which is a positive sign as Opening Day grows closer and closer. Hopefully, he will be good to return against the Baltimore Orioles on March 26.

New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: Zack Britton

Zack Britton was one of the New York Yankees‘ best relievers in 2019 and will be looking to continue that into 2020. With a 3-1 record and a 1.91 ERA, Britton was dominant all season. He pitched in 66 games over 61.1 innings in 2019, striking out 53.

Typically, you don’t see relievers with fewer strikeouts than innings anymore. But Britton is a huge exception to that. It’s not that he can’t throw hard, but more so because of his sinkerballer reputation. Sinkerballers come into the game looking for contact, often groundballs. That’s why a guy like Britton is great in late-inning jams to try to get a big double-play. 121 of 153 balls hit into play off of him were on the ground.

Though great against both sides, Britton is completely in control against lefties. They hit just .158 off of him, and he never allowed a home run against them.

2020 Expectations:

The Yankees could use Britton in several different roles in 2020, but they need another good season out of him.

Britton was a closer with the Orioles, so he could potentially close out games when Aroldis Chapman needs a day off or if he is injured.

In games where he doesn’t close (which is the majority of the time), he could either be an eighth-inning guy or a jam guy. By a jam guy, I mean come into a mess and try to get a double-play as I said earlier. Being an eighth-inning guy, his objective is to retire all three batters in the inning to get the game to Chapman for the ninth.

And statistically, the Yankees need him to be about as good as he was last year. But realistically, even if his ERA is a bit higher, it will be fine.

The Yankees are expecting another big season out of Zack Britton, and hopefully, he will produce.

Can the New York Yankees trust their bullpen in 2020?

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

With the New York Yankees losing Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr. in the bullpen this offseason, they will journey into 2020 with a reliance on other arms. Betances missed all of 2019 virtually, pitching in just one game before tearing his Achilles tendon and hitting the free-agent market with a dud year in tow.

Betances latched on with the Mets on a one year, $10.5 million deal, which will force the Yankees to rely more on options like Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton. The retention of Aroldis Chapman solidified the closer role, but the depth in the bullpen should be concerning.

General manager Brian Cashman allocated plenty of resources into the bolstering of the starting rotation, dishing out $324 million over nine years for Gerrit Cole. The money spent on securing arguably the best pitcher in baseball made the probability of signing a big relief arm unrealistic. There were talks of Brewers’ Josh Hader coming to New York, but nothing materialized.

The New York Yankees are shifting their strategy:

In 2019, manager Aaron Boone adopted a bullpen mentality that featured tons of pitchers that were used in specific scenarios. It’s not that the starters weren’t expected to survive for multiple innings, it was the simple reality that they couldn’t. With Luis Severino missing a majority of the campaign and Jordan Montgomery recovering from Tommy John, the Yankees were left with Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German (until his suspension), and James Paxton to hold down the fort with minimal support.

The lack of quality starting options forced Boone to feature his bullpen more frequently than he would’ve liked. In 2020, they will rely on Cole, Severino, and others to pitch deep into games, allowing the Yankees to take the pressure off the bullpen, where fatigue set in during the postseason.

The core four of Chapman, Britton, Ottavino, and Kahnle are all over the age of 30, and their degradation has been apparent. Still, they should hold enough quality and efficiency to enable the survival of the Yankees. However, it’s very dependent on the health of the starting pitching rotation, which is where new strength and conditioning coach, Eric Cressey, enters the mix.