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D-backs open to unique circumstances when MLB season returns

Nick Ahmed #13 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Washington Nationals during the MLB game at Chase Field on August 04, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Nationals 7-5. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks know that the ideal situation was — and still is — to play as many Major League Baseball games as possible, fans in the stands and everything.

The outbreak of the coronavirus, however, has created uncertainty around just about every aspect of the sport.

The Diamondbacks, in response to that uncertainty, will wait to see how things play out. But in the meantime, they’re flexible as to the accommodations they may have to make if and when the season gets underway in 2020. Ken Kendrick acknowledged that when he joined Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

One idea is to have neutral site games late in the season when not all teams can have games in their home ballparks due to harsh weather. Arizona doesn’t have that issue.

“I think the neutral site game concepts are more built around — at least the lengthening of the schedule — lets say a full month of October of regular games and then the month of November for our playoff games,” D-backs owner Ken Kendrick said Tuesday. “[That] would add a month to calendar basically, and that would allow more games to be played than would be otherwise.

“We have offered, by virtue of where we are in Arizona and the benefit of attractive climate and a climate-controlled building as well, we’ve offered Chase Field up as available to be used when and how Major League Baseball would want to use it.”

Kendrick also acknowledged the possibility of playing games without fans or having some games played at spring training ballparks.

“There’s not any option that isn’t being looked at because there are so many things that are uncertain right now,” Kendrick said. “So you need to look at each and every option to play as many baseball games as is possible to play, because at the end of the day, that’s what our fans would like, that’s what the players would like and that’s what we, on the ownership side, would like.”

Meanwhile, Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed checked in with reporters in a video chat on Tuesday and said he ordered workout equipment online to stay in shape at home. He’s been trying to focus on the positives at a time when players are itching to get back on the field.

“Ultimately, we want to play. I think everybody wants baseball to happen,” Ahmed said. “So I think if it comes to [playing in empty ballparks], players are open to that, players are open to playing. We want to play. So if it comes to playing with no fans for a little while, as much as that would be extremely weird and strange, we’d be open to it. Hopefully it wouldn’t have to last for a long time. But to get more games in and get more games on TV for fans to watch, we’re all for that.”

Ahmed said he saw a photo of players in Asia playing intrasquad games while wearing masks. He was open to the idea if that was all it took to resume playing.

“I think we’re five or six days into what would’ve been our 2020 season so far. It’s already strange,” he said. “So missing five days is nothing compared to missing 162 of them. So hopefully that does not happen. Everybody wants to play baseball.”


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