How the Cubs are handling the stress of ongoing MLB virus issues
David Ross is not going to play the “what if?” game.
He didn’t want to get into what would happen if the Cubs were dealt the same hand the Marlins are currently experiencing, where at least 13 members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19, causing postponements of multiple games around the league.
The Cubs are certainly not blocking it all out, but they’re trying to focus on the task immediately in front of them. Monday marked the first time they’ve had to leave the city of Chicago since summer camp started, beginning a four-game series in Cincinnati with the Reds.
Typically, MLB teams leave the day before a road series if they can, but the Cubs opted to first set sail for Ohio Monday morning.
That means a flight, busing to and from the field and staying in a hotel — Willson Contreras said Sunday he planned to bring his own sheets to Cincinnati as a precaution.
Traveling to a new environment is stressful enough, but seeing what’s going on around the league adds to a heightened state of turmoil these players are experiencing.
“I think everybody’s been stressed since the first second we stepped into camp,” Ian Happ said. “That’s the name of the game this year is dealing with stress, managing it. It’s not an easy situation for anybody, from the players down to every single staff member.”
The Cubs have so far not had a player test positive for the virus, with only pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and quality assurance coach Mike Napoli testing positive. Hottovy has since tested negative and has been with the team all summer camp while Napoli is still at home in Florida and awaiting a return to the team.
The Cubs have been very responsible so far, laying out as a team what they deemed acceptable behavior as they worked toward a return amid the pandemic. All they can do is continue to try to control what they can control.
“Nobody’s traveled anywhere for a long time,” Happ said. “It’s difficult just to wrap your mind around it. I think the most important part of these protocols that isn’t being talked about enough is the wearing a mask, the distancing, treating every single person you come into contact with — even your teammates that you know are negative — like they’re positive.
“I think that’s the best way for us to make sure that there isn’t a spread, that there isn’t any kind of situation that happens where a team has five or 10 positives. And if we do that, if we’re really diligent with how we’re interacting with each other — even our teammates and our close friends — I think that’s the best way to proceed.”
Happ — who is the Cubs’ player rep — said the team was in constant communication with the Reds ahead of this week’s series. The Reds placed Mike Moustakas on the injured list after he woke up with symptoms and have had a couple other players also experiencing symptoms.
Happ also said the league and the Players Association are gathering more information and trying to take things one day at a time without making any broad decisions about the future of the season.
When it comes down to it, the Cubs feel the responsibility lies with each team and policing itself — with players holding each other accountable — to get through this season safe and healthy.
That means making sacrifices with regards to celebrations on the field and in the dugout.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Ross said. “To tell everybody to not touch and not celebrate and stay six feet apart. And all the things that we’re trying to do the best that we can in the emotions of our game that everybody wants to see and these players that you love their personalities and you love your team and you love all the stuff that’s fun for you guys to write about.
“It’s just a little frustrating. It’s difficult and we’re all trying to do our best. Nobody’s taking anything for granted. We’re trying to compete at the highest level and we’re doing something that a lot of people haven’t been able to do. It’s difficult and we’re trying to follow those protocols as much as we possibly can. But we’re not perfect, we’re not robots.”