ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers were supposed to be all settled in and fully acquainted with their new stadium by now, ready to spend the July 4 holiday weekend playing games at home.
But instead of preparing Friday to play their 44th home game of the season, and 89th overall, they opened an unprecedented summer camp. Their first official workout in the new $1.2 billion Globe Life Field, and under the closed retractable roof, came nearly four months after they were in Arizona when MLB shut down spring training because of the coronavirus pandemic, and three weeks before they expect to finally play the home opener.
“I’m kind of expecting weird, expecting things to be different,” manager Chris Woodward said after the workout. “I just think the whole situation is different. And that’s kind of our theme ... we’ve got to stay positive and just kind of like roll with the punches, take things head on, deal with it."
While four other relievers took the mound for a simulated game, left-hander Brett Martin was away from the team after he tested positive for COVID-19 during intake testing this week. Martin, already at higher risk because he has Type 1 diabetes, was in the Dallas area with his wife.
General manager Jon Daniels said Martin, who pitched in 51 games as a rookie last season, was feeling better but still had some mild symptoms with congestion and fatigue.
Martin will have to have two consecutive negative tests more than 24 hours apart and cleared by a physician before he could rejoin the team. It was unclear when that could happen.
“He was probably the one guy I was worried about most," said Woodward, who had spoken with the 25-year-old pitcher. “We just want to make sure he's talking all the right precautions. He feels good, and we will continue to monitor him.”
Daniels said Martin gave the team permission to reveal the results. Players have the right not to disclose them.
There were 57 players on the initial camp roster, and the Rangers said 42 participated in the two workouts Friday — 25 in the morning and 17 in the afternoon. Players were spread over three different clubhouses at the new stadium, and also had access for facilities across the street at Globe Life Park, their former stadium that after the end of last season was reconfigured for the short-lived revival of XFL football.
While not giving specifics, the team said it was still waiting on the results from intake testing of several players.
One of those players was left-handed starter Mike Minor, an All-Star last season who was scheduled to throw four innings in an simulated game Friday. The Rangers were trying to keep Minor on track for his expected start in the second game of the season behind scheduled opening day starter Lance Lynn.
When Rougned Odor pulled a homer into the right field seats in the intrasquad portion of the afternoon workout, going deep off Jose Leclerc, there were a smattering of applause and subdued cheers. While the workouts were closed to the public, there were still small groups of people taking tours of the new stadium, and a blood drive was being held on the concourse.
The roof was closed, just as was planned for sweltering summer days like Friday — when the temperature outside was in the upper 90s, and felt even warmer.
Some Rangers players had been working out there for several weeks, during the same time when the stadium hosted socially distanced graduation ceremonies for 54 area high schools. About 20,000 seniors received their diplomas at home plate.