Aaron Boone and Buck Showalter are in limbo

Even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t kept Aaron Boone away from his players following the postponement of the start of the 2020 season. ...


Even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t kept Aaron Boone away from his players following the postponement of the start of the 2020 season.

Boone, the Yankees manager, made waves on social media in March when he recorded and lent his voice to a clip of pitcher Gerrit Cole pitching with his pregnant wife, Amy, at their home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The viral video was an example of Boone, 48, connecting with his players when baseball is off season. He notably visited Gary Sánchez in the receiver’s native Dominican Republic after a disappointing 2018 campaign and planned a similar trip to see Miguel Andújar, among others, in January 2020.

This offseason, however, a new obstacle has found a way to keep Boone away from his players.

As negotiations between the players’ union and team owners continue for a new collective agreementMajor League Baseball player lockout means that team personnel, including managers and coaches, cannot contact players on rosters of 40 players.

“I don’t like it,” Boone said with a laugh earlier this offseason, adding that winter trades are both a tool and a way to bond. A manager can gather information about how a player is training or recovering from injury, but such interactions also allow for connection outside of work.

“I certainly miss those simple things that you communicate, whether it’s a phone call or a text,” Boone said, adding his dismay at not knowing the players’ families or vacation and vacation plans. “Especially with a lot of our players who we’ve been together for four years and you have this strong relationship and history with.”

At least Boone has the advantage of already knowing most of the players who are forbidden to speak with during negotiations. Across town in Queens, the Mets hired Buck Showalter after the start of the lockdown. He joins a long list of new faces in the organization: a mostly new coaching staff, General Manager Billy Epplerand a group of free agents headlined by pitcher Max Scherzerwhose three-year, $130 million contract set an average annual value record.

Showalter, 65, who was last successful in 2018 with the Baltimore Orioles, has little personal experience with the players on his roster. He tried to do some scouting to compensate for this, looking for people who had played or worked with his players in the past. Showalter doesn’t want to overdo it though.

“There have been situations where I just sort of said what was at issue, I want to make up my own mind,” he said in late January. “It’s good that the players know you have a new look. You’re not going to be overshadowed by, he said, she said, all the different things that are going on. There’s no secrets in the game. People are very willing to share information, but sometimes you get overloaded with it.”

Credit…Associated press

MLB coaches, especially those new to their jobs, are in a similar position. With a new manager, the Mets had a lot of staff turnover. The Yankees did the same after a disappointing 2021 season, but they hired key positions from inside – a move that seems advantageous in these times of mandated radio silence.

For example, Dillon Lawson, the Yankees’ new hitting coach, has spent the past three years as the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator. He’s new to the majors, but not to many of the players he’ll coach.

“I feel very lucky to have been with the organization for the past three years,” Lawson said last month. “One of the small benefits that came out of the 2020 season was the fact that it put me face to face with these players, whether it was on the alternate site or in the bubble, so there is experience with guys.”

Lawson was able to hang out with the players before the lockout, get into the batting cage for practices and go out to eat. His residency in Tampa, Florida brought him closer to the Yankees’ player development complex, giving him and the players a chance to “get ahead” in anticipation of the work stoppage. It also gave Lawson a head start on relationship building, an important aspect of his job for which he would have only had a ‘compressed window’ after the lockdown.

Now disconnected from those players, Lawson spends time watching videos of Yankees hitters and opponents (along with caring for his 3-month-old son). Other Yankees coaches, meanwhile, are getting to know each other. New third base and field coach Luis Rojas — the man Showalter replaced in Flushing — spent time going over the boards with Boone shortly after he was hired. Plans for spring training are beginning to take shape, though the risk of them being delayed increases with each passing day.

Still, Showalter is gearing up for a typical February, probably or not, after a dead season of interviews, house hunting and Zoom calls. He said he would travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Mets’ spring training home, Feb. 6 or 7. Assuming the lockdown is still in place by then, he hopes to meet players who aren’t on the 40-man roster – guys he won’t have any issues talking to.

“I think I’ll just go down and wait until a player comes up, a player I can really talk to,” Showalter said. “Some of the guys on the list.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: Aaron Boone and Buck Showalter are in limbo
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