The Hartford Yard Goats are in the dugout and they won’t be called to bat for the foreseeable future. Like the rest of their minor league counterparts in Connecticut and across the country, the team which only has played in Hartford for four seasons is benched until further notice.
“Right now, we are like everybody else in the country, waiting for more information,” Yard Goats General Manager Mike Abramson said.
New manager Chris Denorfia is a former major-league outfielder and a Connecticut native. He was philosophical about the delay.
“Baseball has always been a great diversion and once we are on the other side of this safely, we will all need this diversion,” Denorfia said.
Details about what the 2020 baseball season eventually will look like are being discussed. There are whispers about extending the season into the fall, but no one knows yet what will happen.
“Right now, the Major League is saying nothing is off the table,” Abramson said.
“All options are on the table so we can get the most amount of baseball in. If that includes playing into the fall, I’m all for it,” Denorfia said enthusiastically.
The Yard Goats were slated to start the season April 9 against the Boston Red Sox affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. The opening home stand at Dunkin’ Donuts Park was also supposed to feature a three-game series against the Harrisburg Senators.
“We were sent home on March 13th,” explained Denorfia. “Training had just begun when the plug was pulled.”
Training for the Colorado Rockies, the team’s Major League affiliate, had started at the beginning of February. Spring training games were in full swing when all of baseball shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now, we are in uncharted territory,” said Denorfia, who added that he was instructed to tell his team to ramp down their training at home and just stay in shape before gearing up again when the season starts.
“I know we can be ready fairly quickly once we are given the green light to go again,” Denorfia said.
“Right now, we are working hard to maintain our relationship with our clients and reinforce the fact that we are all in this together,” Abramson said. “If nothing else, this pandemic has sparked a spirit of community rising up and that’s a positive for everyone.”
He added, “We are continuing to plan so that when the season does start, we play an A-plus game. Everyone deserves that, and hopefully, we will all appreciate the game a little more, because we can’t have the sweet without the sour.”
Doing their part to help out, the Yard Goats donated 10,000 gloves to the state of Connecticut for those who needed them. In addition, the team and mascots Chompers and Chew Chew, have been keeping fans engaged through the team’s Facebook page with new challenges, design-a-jersey contests, weekly quiz questions, and more.
For now, diehard baseball fans can daydream about Opening Day.
“This is hard for all of us. I am telling my guys the same thing I am telling myself. ‘Try and get in a routine.’ Get up, get in your routine and before you know it, we will all be on the other side of this,” Denorfia said.
On the upside, Minor League Baseball TV (MiLB) is offering thousands of hours of free content until the season starts at www.milb.com.