Amid the COVID-19 crisis, players on the University of UR baseball team are staying at home with an eye on the future.
Redshirt senior outfielder Anthony Forte, who is recovering from a left hand injury he suffered on Feb. 23, said he had been working on a hitting-progression program and that his recovery had been going faster than anticipated. Before the season was canceled on March 12, Forte would have rejoined his teammates on the field around early April. Now, like most of the country, he is staying at home.
Although the Ivy League and other colleges had already canceled spring sports, the NCAA’s decision to cancel the season shocked UR’s baseball players, including Tim Miller, a redshirt junior pitcher.
“My teammates and I have worked so hard to be able to compete and we felt like it was stripped away from us,” Miller wrote in an email to The Collegian. “I was on the field when the news [broke] and we all looked at each other with blank faces. No one knew what to say or what to do.”
Miller and Forte recognized that there are more important issues at hand than sports but said the decision had been shocking nonetheless.
“As we all settled in and took a look at what was going on around the nation, we realized it was the best option,” Miller wrote. “But [at] that moment, it didn’t even seem real.”
On March 31, the NCAA approved a waiver that would grant an extra year of eligibility to spring sport student-athletes, allowing players such as Forte another opportunity in the 2021 season. Theoretically, this would lead to an increase in talent level across the board, as teams would have larger rosters and more experienced players. Miller wrote that “college baseball next year could be the best it has ever been.”
Major League Baseball has shortened its upcoming draft to as few as five rounds, rather than its usual 40, and also capped undrafted players’ signing bonuses at $20,000. These changes might encourage even more student-athletes to choose to play another year in college. The MLB has not yet finalized the draft’s specifications or even its exact date, leaving student-athletes with professional aspirations such as Forte and Miller uncertain.
In the meantime, the UR team has been doing its best to stay in shape. Each player has been given workout plans to follow, and the team has remained in communication since most students left campus after the switch to online instruction, Miller wrote.
These are all efforts to help stay on track and maintain as much stability as possible during an unusual and tumultuous time.
“It’s so weird that our lives are all shaken up,” Forte said. “We’re just trying to find ways to move forward.”
Contact sports writer Noah Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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