The White Sox are back in business, and so is general manager Rick Hahn.
On a video call Thursday, Hahn was finally able to start talking about baseball again, and he said the Sox will be at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 3 to begin preparations for an abbreviated season that opens July 23.
“We are obviously very excited here to get started in the coming days,” Hahn said. “I think the primary goal for all of us is to build off the momentum we built down there in spring training. The way that team was coming together, we were in a really good place.
“Obviously, real life got in the way. But as we ramp back up here in the coming days, we are very excited to try to pick up where we left off and continue to build on that momentum.”
The White Sox were humming right along in March, prepping for the upcoming season at Camelback Ranch in Arizona with their best team in years.
The coronavirus pandemic halted play on March 12, but major-league baseball is trying to come back with a 60-game season.
Starting Saturday, Sox staff members will be given physicals and COVID-19 tests, as will the 44 players who begin arriving for training camp late next week.
Hahn said the White Sox are also going to have a taxi squad of “15 or 16 or so players.” They will begin training at a different camp within a short drive of Guaranteed Rate Field in mid-July.
“We will have more details since we are still in the process of contacting players,” Hahn said. “We will have more details for everybody next week, I would guess probably Monday, about who will exactly be here in Chicago and who will be on the taxi squad to start the season.”
Under the agreement to play 60 regular season games implemented by commissioner Rob Manfred Tuesday night, players and coaches can opt out of play if they have preexisting medical conditions or don’t want to put their health at risk.
“We have not had anyone come forward to express that yet,” Hahn said.
For as nice as it is to have baseball back, the threat of the virus infecting more and more players and stopping the game again is a viable concern.
“We are trusting the experts,” Hahn said. “We are trusting science. We are trusting data and following the lead of experts in the public health arenas. Ultimately, we are going to have to respond to how this unfolds from the virus spread standpoint.”
That’s a worry for another day.
With the game placed on pause for over three months, Hahn and Sox manager Rick Renteria are just happy it’s back — in any form.
Weeks of terse negotiations between owners and players threatened to do even more damage to the game, but at least there’s a season.
“It seems we’re living in a very difficult time right now, where no one seems to be able to agree on much,” Renteria said. “It’s not just baseball, I guess. But that being said, you have to allow those two entities to work it out. Personally, I wish it wouldn’t have been so public. But that’s just me.
“I feel for the fans. They were on an up-and-down roller coaster. I think all people that love the game of baseball, I’m sure some will see with one eye closed and one eye open, some may not want to see it, whatever the case may be. I hope that we’re able to, as time goes forward, put our best foot forward and hopefully be able to entice fans to watch and enjoy, hopefully, what we expect will be an interesting shortened season.”