Updated: July 12, 2020 06:39 PM
Created: July 12, 2020 04:04 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — "That's kind of the motto that everyone's going by right now: is whatever it takes to get us back on the field, that's what we're gonna do," says Toby Gardenhire.
He thought when baseball started back up, he'd be returning to Frontier Field for his first season as the Red Wings' manager.
"We were all ready to come up there. Everybody was all excited and ready to play Triple-A baseball," says Gardenhire.
Instead, the minor league season ended before it began.
"It was a huge bummer. It did sting. I keep looking at the schedule now and I'm wishing I was up there, wishing we were in the different cities traveling around and everything," says Gardenhire.
He rode out the unexpected break in Fort Myers, Florida. Although he wasn't booking a flight back to Western New York, Gardenhire did get a call from the Twins that would have him flying cross-country for baseball again.
"They said, 'Hey, we'd like you to come up to Minnesota to help out the big league staff, getting everyone ready in the spring training 2.0. For a long time, I didn't really know what I was gonna do. I was just kind of waiting in the wings just like everybody else. Just sitting here," says Gardenhire.
Now, Gardenhire's days are anything but slow. He's helping run training at Target Field with some of the players he would've been coaching in Rochester.
"There's quite a few of them that are up here right now. Some of them are over at Target Field working with us right now, and some of them are over at the St. Paul Saints' stadium working too," says Gardenhire.
There's no blueprint for a spring training 2.0, and Gardenhire says they're all just figuring it out as they go.
"We have a plan, but every day the plan kind of changes because you just never know how it's gonna go," says Gardenhire.
So, they control what they can control. When players and staff arrive at the ballpark, they get their temperature taken. They're also tested for COVID-19 every other day, and there's an emphasis on social distancing.
"Everybody's wearing face masks. Everyone's staying away from each other. There's hand sanitizer everywhere," says Gardenhire.
The organization has even re-worked how they utilize the stadium space to make sure everyone's as safe as possible.
"We actually have a work station set up throughout the stadium, like up in the stands in the shaded spots, where we're able to go up there and get our work done. Players have turfed areas up in the concourse in the stadium where they're going up and doing their stretching, getting ready and stuff. We're trying to keep everybody outside," says Gardenhire.
The changes may take some getting used to, but, if everything goes as planned, it will lead to the ultimate goal: playing baseball again. With schedules being released this week, that feels closer than ever.
"You see a schedule come out, an actual schedule, where they have us going out and playing in these different spots. I think that just makes it more real. It makes the guys even more excited to get to that point where they can go out there and start playing games," says Gardenhire.
He may not be at Frontier Field, but Gardenhire has July 24th circled on the calendar. On that day, the Twins will open up play against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Copyright 2020 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company