ARLINGTON -- Health and safety will be paramount for the Rangers during Summer Camp while the country is still dealing with the national crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manager Chris Woodward has been pounding that home to his players and will continue to do so as the Rangers get ready for their three-week Summer Camp and the 60-game schedule to follow. The first official workout is scheduled for Friday at Globe Life Field.
The Rangers expect to compete for a spot in the postseason over the abbreviated schedule with the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. Woodward said teams that don’t follow strict health and safety protocols could put themselves in an unusual situation and potentially severe disadvantage over the next three months.
That’s why a team-wide Zoom call planned for Thursday night was going to be different than the normal Welcome to Spring Training speech delivered by the manager in February.
“This is a little different, I think: Following protocols being safe, making sure we're on time, sticking to schedules,” Woodward said. “Those are critical for our success here. We can limit the amount of exposure we have, or the risk factor and getting this virus. The team that, honestly, keeps their people on the field or players on the field is probably going to have an advantage.”
Woodward and his coaching staff have kept in close contact with their players since Spring Training was shut down at the end of March. Club officials have also helped the players go over and understand the 101-page operating manual that outlines strict policies, procedures and protocols that must be followed.
"I want to get ahead of it early,” Woodward said. “We pulled out all the things that pertain to them with a fine-tooth comb. We expect them to still read the document, but we have bulleted the things that we can explain.
“We are going to have cases, but we need to minimize that; we need to minimize contact. If you don't [adhere] to the [protocols], because of contact tracing, guys could end up on the COVID list [without having the virus]. That would be devastating to guys personally, and to the team on the field. If we just do what we're supposed to do, we can minimize that."
A COVID-19-related injured list will allow for placements that will not require a confirmed positive test for COVID-19. A player may be placed on this list based on a positive test for COVID-19, confirmed exposure to COVID-19, or if a player exhibits symptoms requiring self-isolation for further assessment.
The Rangers have not announced any players being placed on any injured list. Left-hander Joely Rodríguez is limited with a strained lat muscle, but he is the only player who has been identified as dealing with a physical issue.
Some of the players flying in from Latin America have not yet completed their pre-camp physicals and intake testing.
“A lot of guys have families. They have wives, they’ve kids, they have moms and dads,” Woodward said. “So, I think that the risk is there, and they know that. So, they're doing everything they can. They're coming in excited, obviously. The guys can't wait to get on the field and see our new ballpark.
“But, at the same time, guys are wearing masks around. We have to kind of get them away from each other at times, because they love to be around each other. But I think for the most part, everybody is concerned about it, and they're willing to take on the responsibility that they have to keep everybody safe."