Milwaukee Brewers players will be hitting the field at Miller Park on July 4 for their first team workouts of what the team is calling “Spring Training 2.0,” a most-unusual training camp and baseball season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will host our training camp at Miller Park here in Milwaukee,” said Brewers GM David Stearns. “We will do intake testing on July 1. All players will go through their pre-participation physicals. We will have our first squad workout on July 4.”
Fans will not be able to attend games right now, according to Brewers President and COO Rick Schlesinger.
“Right now, obviously, we are under the guidelines of the City of Milwaukee. Those guidelines do not permit us to have fans at the games,” he said.
“If there is an opening of the city, and a way to accommodate some fans, we absolutely would love to do it…even if we have a limited number of fans through social distancing and other health protocols, it would certainly be an aspirational goal of ours.”
45 players will be participating in workouts at Miller Park before the team’s first game on July 23 or 24, where 30 players will make the major league roster. But those workouts will be different, and at different times because there is only one available field to use at Miller Park.
“Work in a conventional spring training usually takes place in the morning and is spread among a number of fields,” Stearns said.
“We are going to stagger our work throughout the day, creating slightly longer days for our coaching staff.”
The Brewers will open a secondary facility at their Class A home in Appleton for 30 players who will be available. They can be brought up to the Major League level if necessary while working out in the Fox Cities.
Stearns said that facility will open “a week to 10 days prior to the start of Major League opening day. The remaining players of our pool of 60…will report directly to Appleton.”
Some members of the Brewers organization have tested positive for coronavirus, but are asymptomatic and are “doing well,” according to Stearns. The team did not disclose the names of those individuals.
“There are likely going to be positive (tests)…we’re going to have to adjust to that,” said Stearns.
The Brewers’ schedule is expected “shortly,” according to Schlesinger, as MLB and the MLB Players Association are working on the schedule together.
“We’re waking up in the middle of the season on July 24 and there’s a five-way race for the Central championship,” added Stearns. “A very hotly-contested division with the majority of teams in the division very strong this year…an exciting pennant race coming up.”
He said that there is still “a lot of season left,” and that it is not necessarily a sprint.
“We’re going to manage our roster in a way to be successful for the entire 60 games.”
Without fans attending the Brewers’ 30 home games, without 51 other home games being played at all, the Brewers are facing “substantial impacts” on the team’s finances, according to Schlesinger.
“Playing games without our fans…the loss of that revenue is obviously severe and impactful. 2020 is going to be an extremely difficult (year),” he said. “I’m not worried about the long-term health of our organization.”
Prognostications are premature for being able to say the team will have a 2021 campaign with full stadiums, according to Schlesinger, but it is their hope.
Some parts of Miller Park will open up to fans this month, however.
“The team store will be opening next Tuesday. We’ve put in a number of protocols to comply with City of Milwaukee guidelines. Again, this will be for many fans the first opportunity to see and purchase our new uniforms with the new logo,” said Schlesinger.
“The Restaurant To Be Named Later will be opening later in July.”
Schlesinger said the team is still “full speed ahead” on American Family Field being the name of Miller Park for 2021 and beyond, despite 51 fewer home games and no fans in the stands in 2020.
All these realities are part of the shortest MLB season in 140 years, but as Stearns said, “We know it’s going to be an unusual season, a different-looking season, but a baseball season nonetheless.”