PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The crack of the bat may be a sound local professional baseball players only hear in a batting cage this summer.
While big league ball players mull over a plan to re-start the Major League Baseball season, minor leaguer players realize they may be left out of the mix this year. The proposal baseball owners sent to the players’ union does not appear to include a minor league season.
“It’s unfortunate that we may not be able to play,” said Washington’s Mason McCoy, a shortstop in the Orioles organization. “There were a lot of guys that were ready. This was going to be a big years for them. Unfortunately, nobody can control this.”
McCoy spent about a month of spring training with Baltimore’s big league players before being sent to the minor league camp right before the coronavirus outbreak stopped the baseball season. While details of the proposal aren’t public, indications are Major League rosters will be expanded to include some minor league players.
But Minor League Baseball teams playing games in their own parks doesn’t look like a possibility. There may be a chance for some minor league players to return to training camps in Arizona and Florida for an indefinite period of time, if a big league season starts.
“I would hate to go a year and a half without any contact from teams,” said Peoria’s Luke Mangieri, a former Bradley player and current Pirates minor leaguer. “Hopefully something like that happens, even if it’s just for a week it would be better than nothing.”
Chillicothe’s Zach McAllister says he is out for the remainder of the season after he broke his humerus in a “freak injury” while playing long-toss while training at home.
Peoria’s Ryan Dunne, a pitcher in the Reds organization, isn’t sure what he’d do if the minor league season gets canceled and he can’t pitch anywhere.
“I would just try and figure out some way to try and keep competing, whether it’s (Peoria’s) Sunday Morning League for a while. Until things get going,” said Dunne, a Western Illinois product who’s father Mike pitched in the big leagues. “That’s if our organizations are willing to let us play in an amateur league.”
Dozer Park has been vacant all spring. The home of the class A Midwest League’s Peoria Chiefs would remain empty if there are no minor league games to be played this year.
“We know there is a lot of uncertainty,” said Chiefs general manager Jason Mott. “Just know we are going to take care of everybody whether we play or don’t. Be patient and we’ll get through this together, I don’t think there is anybody that wants sports more than we do.”