If there is baseball this summer, the Red Sox will hold their preseason workouts in Massachusetts for the first time in almost 70 years.

Boston’s “second spring training” – let’s call it “training camp” – will be held locally, as team president and CEO Sam Kennedy confirmed to the Boston Globe on Saturday. COVID-19 outbreaks in Florida and Arizona have led to teams scrapping their plans to return to their spring training facilities, meaning the Red Sox will not be resuming camp at their Fenway South complex in Fort Myers, Florida.

Red Sox decision-makers have spent the last few weeks debating where to hold their preseason training camp, with Boston and Fort Myers each presenting specific advantages and challenges that made the choice a difficult one. Now, with coronavirus cases rising in Florida and plateauing in the Northeast, the pandemic has made the decision for the team.

In the most unusual of seasons, this will be the most unusual of training camps. It will likely extend to facilities past Fenway Park and require players to report in waves to limit the amount of bodies in one place at one time. Here’s a rundown of some possibilities:

For games, there’s no better place to play baseball than Fenway Park. But for preseason workouts, the ballpark leaves a lot to be desired.

There’s obviously only one diamond at Fenway, compared to seven in Fort Myers, including the stadium field at JetBlue Park. In Florida, there are plenty of batting cages and mounds for guys to get reps. At Fenway, there are just a few. Home clubhouse space is already limited with a 25-man roster, so having up to 50 players at the park will be difficult.

With that in mind, the Red Sox have internally discussed the possibility of using other fields in the Greater Boston area. While there aren’t any pristine college facilities that stand out, the Sox could send players to Harvard, Boston College or Northeastern to get reps and would have other athletic facilities (including covered football bubbles at Harvard and BC) available. Further west, the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough has three diamonds and indoor batting cages, though the turf fields may be a nonstarter for big leaguers. LaLacheur Park in Lowell could be a possibility, as well.

Obviously, liability issues would need to be worked out before the Sox used any facilities they don’t own. Those details are even harder to work out in the middle of a pandemic.

PLAYERS IN ISOLATION

Players weren’t too receptive to the idea of being isolated away from their families for a few months under MLB’s original “Arizona plan,” but it might suit the club to have everyone in that kind of setup for two or three weeks during camp. In that scenario, players and coaches would all stay at a hotel near Fenway Park for the duration of camp, limiting their exposure to the outside world and allowing for a short commute, on foot, to the park.

If the Sox can have 50 players in camp, their roster will include lots of players who were projected to play in Triple-A this season. Those guys likely haven’t secured housing in Boston and would need to stay in a hotel, anyway.

WORKOUTS IN WAVES

The Red Sox can’t have everyone at the ballpark at once, meaning they’ll have to have players come in waves for workouts. Breaking the roster up positionally would make sense, with infielders and outfielders potentially having separate workout times.

With the limited number of mounds, pitchers would have to report to throw at different times during the day. Hitters would cycle through the cages in a similar fashion.
Staggering the workouts will make for long days for coaches and trainers, who might have to stagger their appearances as well. It’s unclear if media members or nonuniformed team staffers will be allowed into the stadium for workouts.

TEMPORARY CHANGES AT FENWAY?

With limited space at Fenway, the Red Sox might have to make some temporary changes to accommodate camp. The visitors’ clubhouse and cages can obviously be used, but the lack of foul ground on the playing field will force the Sox to get creative in their search for space.

As the Globe reported Saturday, the team is considering putting up temporary batting cages in the concourse area. Theoretically, the same could be done with temporary mounds. If there’s open space, the team is going to find a way to use it.

INTRASQUAD GAMES

Because teams are training in their respective home cities, lining up preseason exhibition games will not be easy. Unless the Red Sox have a couple exhibition games against their Opening Day opponent (potentially the Yankees, according to one source) right before the season starts, their only game action will come in the form of intrasquad scrimmages.
Those scrimmages would serve two purposes. First, it would help players get closer to game action after a long layoff. Perhaps more importantly, it would serve as a test run for the still-to-be-finalized health and safety protocols that will be put in place for games, allowing players to start getting used to social distancing rules and other new mandates that will be enforced during the season.

OTHER NOTES

Ten observations from the last week in baseball:

1. Everything above is still contingent on the league coming to terms on a plan to play this summer, which has still not been finalized. At this point, does anyone who doesn’t work in baseball even care what happens?

2. I’m still not sold on Alex Cora returning to Boston in 2021. Everyone – including Cora and Chaim Bloom – has consistently thrown cold water on the idea.

3. Per Baseball America, the Red Sox lead the league in undrafted free-agent signings, having signed 11 players so far. Boston is one of eight teams to sign eight or more players, along with the Reds and Phillies (10), Yankees, Astros and Cubs (nine) and Cardinals and Rangers (eight).

4. On the other side of the spectrum, there are eight teams who have signed less than three undrafted players. Shockingly, some teams – the Rays, Angels and Tigers – haven’t signed any. The Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks have signed one player each. The White Sox have signed two.

5. The Sox are going all-out to get the guys they want. In addition to having Chris Sale call St. Joseph’s right-hander Jordan DiValerio to recruit him, Boston had Xander Bogaerts make a recruiting video for Grand Canyon first baseman Cuba Bess, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

6. The coronavirus outbreaks at various camps (including the Phillies’ and Blue Jays’ facilities in Florida) are extremely concerning and prove that this season, if it happens, won’t be easy to get through.

7. The news that prospect Noah Song will not be able to pitch for a year (at least) because of his Navy service commitment is obviously bad for the Red Sox, but the effects of that will be minimized with no minor league baseball this year.

8. I enjoyed the feature from co-beat writer Chris Smith on one of the Red Sox undrafted signees, University of Tampa closer Jacinto Arrendondo. Inspirational story.

9. Another strong piece by a colleague was a column by Matt Vautour. A harsh reminder that it won’t be easy to restart sports, even if a couple (NASCAR and golf) are already back.

10. Did I mention no one outside baseball really cares what happens with these negotiations?

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