‘The Country Needs Baseball’

Pirates manager Derek Shelton believes it will help us heal

Jeff Hathhorn
May 04, 2020 - 4:55 pm
Derek Shelton with umpires

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – With still talk of scenarios of how Major League Baseball could return and some asking why.  Pirates manager Derek Shelton believes the game is part of the national recovery from COVID-19.

“I feel strongly the country needs baseball,” Shelton said.

“It’s something that helps us heal’” Shelton added on Monday.  “By getting back to the game, our national pastime.  It’s going to help.  It’s going to help in all regards.”

“The one great thing about baseball, everyone has played it at some point.”

“For you guys (media), everyone has an opinion on it, which is great.  But because of that, and we bring the game back, its going to bring passion.  It’s going to bring excitement.”

“I really feel it is going to go down historically.  I feel the game is going to help us heal as a country.”

Because there are so many scenarios of how the nation and game will return, Shelton said he spends a lot of time chatting with Mt. Lebanon native and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly.  Half-joking that they talk or text 80 times a day to discuss how they would handle the different formats.  Shelton said it keeps them sane tossing around a number of ideas.

The Pirates brass remains in contact with players and they know they are working at home to some extent, but they are not with other professionals.  Plus, players have access to different equipment and some are in areas where they can do more outside.

Shelton worries about players pushing through injuries or creating new injuries in a rush to get back to work.  They need players to be honest about anything that is nagging them.

That likely would mean Pirates players would play in fewer back-to-back games and they would ask for bigger rosters, at least to start, assuming the season resumes.

Almost every early scenario has the game returning with no fans, which presents other challenges—like the players and coaches voices carrying and picked up by mics.  Shelton joked they would have to watch how they talk to the umpires.

“I think the biggest part of that, is that we are playing,” Shelton said of that nuance.  “We are all going to have to adjust.  There would possibly be adjustments in terms of the fans, the rules.  The main thing is we are back to playing baseball and that’s what we all want.”

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