Summer Baseball in Limbo, Athletes and Coaches Navigate Uncertain Times

By Ruben Rios
Former Fortuna Husky, former Humboldt Crab (Far West League MVP), former Humboldt B52s pitcher

Summer baseball is right around the corner and life as we know it has been put on pause. There have been questions surrounding the likelihood of a 2020 summer baseball season with the recent local appearance of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and many other cases showing up in other parts of California. As of now, California high school and collegiate spring sports have been either cancelled or suspended indefinitely. What does this mean for local baseball players and upcoming summer baseball programs?

The following is a Q&A with local coaches and standout baseball players including their take on this emerging pandemic situation we are currently facing.

Q: So far this year the COVID-19 pandemic has halted or ended nearly every high school and collegiate spring sport. What do you think this will mean for the upcoming summer collegiate baseball leagues? 

Hopefully it means nothing, and the Crabs can have our 76th consecutive season. That being said, things seem to change on a daily basis and there is no way to tell where we will be at the end of May.  All we can do as an organization is move forward with preparations for the 2020 summer baseball season.

– Robin Guiver, Humboldt Crabs Manager, San Lorenzo Valley High School Baseball Head Coach

 It really depends if things clear up and get back to normal. If things don’t progress there could be a real chance of not having summer ball, which would be devastating for our community. Hopefully things do not progress and I could see this being the best competition across the nation because you will have ball players that are healthy and wanting to play. With that being said it should eliminate the ‘I’m gonna take the summer off’ due to overuse.

 -Brad Morgan, College of the Redwoods Head Coach, Humboldt Crabs Assistant Coach

 As of now I think most collegiate summer leagues are holding onto the hope of playing this summer. I haven’t received any phone calls from the teams on the Crabs schedule that they will be folding for the summer due to the virus. As an organization I know we are planning on playing a full summer. As it approaches we will make the necessary adjustments based on the ever changing situation.

 – Eric Giacone, Humboldt Crabs Assistant Coach

 We are taking it day by day and paying very close attention to all our local and state wide updates of this health epidemic. At this point the season is a go and the B52’s will continue as such, but our number one priority is the health and safety of our players, fans and the Humboldt County community.

 – Jeff Giacomini, Eureka High Head Baseball Coach & Humboldt B52’s Owner

 The summer leagues will be very important this year. Using me for example, I was planning to play this summer as a way to top off my baseball career. Now this summer I’ll be preparing for my senior year. Many seniors will be looking for a place to play this summer. 

– Dylan Campbell, Humboldt Crab, Mount Mercy University Baseball 

I really don’t know how to take it now, I’m just hoping that we can play summer league baseball.

– Caleb Ruiz, College of the Redwoods Baseball

Q: Since the collegiate baseball season has been cancelled, how does this affect collegiate players eligibility?

The one good thing to come from this unfortunate situation is that all players will get their eligibility year back. This does make a unique situation for incoming freshman and possible junior college transfers to compete for spots when schools are returning basically their whole team.

-Brad Morgan, College of the Redwoods Head Coach, Humboldt Crabs Assistant Coach

I think as of right now they are going to make a decision in April of what to do about sports. On the other hand, for collegiate sports they have granted seniors another year of eligibility. There has been news coming out that the NCAA is thinking to only give seniors their eligibility back and not the other grades. Also, the NCAA has not come out with how they’re going to handle the bigger rosters and scholarship money.

– Kokko Figueiredo, Cal State Monterey Bay Baseball, Humboldt Crab

 Although it is looking more unlikely everyday I am still holding out hope that we can play a shortened high school season in May. Just praying for a chance for our seniors. As for the upcoming summer collegiate season it will be interesting. College seniors have been granted an extra year of eligibility and so more players may return for another summer. That pushes players down and could strengthen the younger summer teams like the Humboldt Eagles.”

– Matt Tomlin, St. Bernards Head Baseball Coach, Humboldt Eagles Baseball Head Coach

 We are lucky enough at the collegiate level we get the year of eligibility back.” 

– Dalton Smith, Humboldt Crab, Butte College Baseball

Q: Given the current situation, how difficult will it be to find future host families if there is a summer baseball season?

I could see an uphill battle for finding host families due to the current circumstances, which could make things difficult for summer programs.” 

-Brad Morgan, College of the Redwoods Head Coach, Humboldt Crabs Assistant Coach

Q: As a coach, how have you seen the COVID-19 pandemic affect your players?

I have not seen any effect. I have only heard their frustration of not being on the field everyday to play the game they all love so much.

– Jeff Giacomini, Eureka High Head Baseball Coach, Humboldt B52’s Owner

I have personally seen COVID-19 take the positive spirit away from several of my players. The seniors who are seeing their final season taken away without taking the field are crushed. This was their year and they are heart broken. This was also their last chance to showcase their talent to colleges and they have lost that opportunity.

– Matt Tomlin, St. Bernards Head Baseball Coach, Humboldt Eagles Baseball Head Coach

Q: As a player, how have you seen the COVID-19 pandemic affect your teammates?

My teammates weren’t fans of the cancellation of the season because we put in so much effort and time everyday to not be able to play hurts.

– Dalton Smith, Humboldt Crab, Butte College Baseball

Some of my teammates live in parts of California where there is a lockdown, but no one has it.

– Bryce Kirk, Humboldt Crab, University of Pacific Baseball.

Just shocked for the most part. Many of my teammates have gone home to be with their families.

– Dylan Campbell, Humboldt Crab, Mount Mercy University Baseball

Q: What do you recommend high school and college players to do now to stay in shape and keep their edge until baseball returns?

Players need to continue to take care of their bodies through this off time. Staying with their workout/conditioning regimen will be important as the summer approaches. Any chance to play catch or take swings will be important as well. Most summer teams will not have a lot of practice time before games start so it will be on the players to show up in shape to avoid early season injuries. Coaches will need to be mindful of that situation as well and do their best to make decisions in each player’s best interest.

– Eric Giacone, Humboldt Crabs Assistant Coach

 ”I have spoken to a number of guys and just have reminded them to stay in shape and get their work in on the field as they can. They cannot have team practices, but hopefully they will be able to get their work in on their own. We usually get guys coming in for the summer after finishing a long school season. But that will not be the case this summer, and I expect guys to be really anxious to get back on the field.

– Robin Guiver, Humboldt Crabs Manager, San Lorenzo Valley High School Baseball Head Coach

Q: As a player, what are you doing now to keep your edge for when baseball returns? 

“Right now I’m taking a break from baseball. Currently, I can’t do much because in Monterey there is a shelter in place coordinance. But you know me, in the near future I’ll be hitting in the cage with my dad. Also, I’ll likely practice with my old junior college coach Brad Morgan and other collegiate players in the area looking to stay sharp for the summer season. Furthermore, this is going to be a great time for me to improve my game in the gym.

– Kokko Figueiredo, Cal State Monterey Bay Baseball, Humboldt Crab

I’m just running on the treadmill trying to keep the lungs all good and also bullpens. 

– Caleb Ruiz, College of the Redwoods Baseball 

Right now I have been doing body weight workouts, running outside, and playing catch to get ready for summer.

– Bryce Kirk, Humboldt Crab, University of Pacifc Baseball

 Watching baseball everyday because I want the MLB season to start. I’ve been doing some at home workouts to stay in shape. I’m really itching to play again.

– Dylan Campbell, Humboldt County, Mount Mercy University Baseball 

The uncertainty of the 2020 summer baseball season is apparent but Humboldt County summer baseball coaches, players, and staff remain hopeful as they continue to prepare for the upcoming summer season. One thing we can be certain during this time is that when baseball returns we will see well rested players and coaches out there who have been reminded not to take the sport they love for granted and ready to perform with a lot of heart and excitement.

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