Ross Stripling voices the irritation of players over season uncertainty

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling openly says what other players are thinking.

Ross Stripling should be on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers right now. The Dodgers should be in Cincinnati, playing the first game of a three-game series against the Reds. It should’ve been their 66th game of the season.

Instead, Stripling, the Dodgers, and the rest of Major League Baseball remains in limbo as the owners and Players Association negotiate a deal to start the 2020 season. The MLBPA made a new offer on Tuesday, but no agreement is within sight.

Stripling, a right-hander heading into his fifth season with the Dodgers, went on SportsNet LA on Tuesday and shared what must be a common frustration among players unsure when to prepare for the season to start.

“You know, it’s just hard when you don’t have a date when you don’t have a set time to build up for,” he says.

The season was supposed to begin on March 26. The COVID-19 pandemic made that an impossibility. The league then targeted early July, possibly the July 4 holiday, as a start date, but with no agreement that seems unlikely as well.

There’s work still to be done before the MLB 2020 season

Even if a deal was reached soon, it would take some time for players to come back to their respective clubs from across the United States and abroad. Clubs would have to install safety precautions in their parks in order to keep players and staff healthy. All that work must happen before a condensed Spring Training begins, which is expected to last around three weeks. It would likely be more than a month from the time a deal is reached to when the season starts.

The MLBPA proposal on Tuesday called for the season to begin on July 10, but that offer was quickly rejected by the owners. Negotiations continue with no end in sight. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to implement a season of as few as 48 games if no deal is reached; under that scenario, and if owners want to end the season by Sept. 27 to avoid a possible second wave of COVID-19, a season can start as late as August.

There will almost certainly be a season in 2020, but not knowing when it’s going to start is the biggest challenge facing Stripling and his fellow players. “It’s just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge,” he says. “We’re used to working out. We’re used to throwing bullpens. Right now we’re used to being 70 games into the season. So the physical side isn’t a big deal. If anything, we’re going to be well-rested and ready to go. It’s the mental grind right now that’s difficult.”

“We’ll be ready. But it’s stressful. We want to get going.”

He and the rest of the league will just have to wait. For how long, no one is sure right now.

Next: MLB owners respond to MLBPA proposal

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