SEATTLE — Getting a second chance is rare, and Napoleon grad Art Warren is ready for another chance to make the Seattle Mariners Opening Day roster as Major League Baseball’s Spring Training 2.0 is set to begin July 1.
With the player’s union and owners failing to agree on what a 2020 season would be, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a 60-game season, which is set to begin July 23-24.
The teams are allowed to bring 60 players to abbreviated training camp, beginning July 1. From that pool teams can keep 30 players on the major league roster and another 30 on the Taxi Team, which they can use to replace a player when needed from the major league roster.
Warren was sent down to the Mariners’ minor league camp before Spring Training was halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is among the 60 players the Mariners have invited to Spring Training 2.0.
“I want to go out there and win one of the 30 spots opposed to 26 (the normal number of players on a team’s roster),” said Warren during a phone interview Friday. “It would be amazing to have that Opening Day experience.
“When I was optioned down during Spring Training it was like they were showing their hand,” Warren said of the Mariners. “I wasn’t sure if it was because of service time or I wasn’t having a great spring, which it could have been. If that is the case, I have a second chance to earn the job again.”
Seattle, like the Detroit Tigers (who are practicing in Detroit and Toledo), are utilizing its Major League ballpark and its AAA minor league stadium in Tacoma, Washington, for Spring Training 2.0. Warren said the facilities are just 45 minutes apart.
The Napoleon native flew out to Seattle Sunday and was supposed to take his COVID-19 test today. Warren must be quarantined in his hotel room until the results of the test come back, which takes between 24 and 72 hours.
Once cleared he would begin working out with the Mariners immediately.
“I am happy,” said Warren of the potential baseball season. “Any time you get a chance to play it feels great. Under the circumstances it is different. I am worried about getting coronavirus, but excited at the same time.”
Warren said he has been working out with a physical therapist three times a week for the past six weeks at a facility in Coldwater, Ohio.
“I started that after I lost access to the facilities at my college,” he said. “Things are different. It’s been an odd year and we will have to take anything with a grain of salt.”
Warren said he was disappointed the players and owners could not reach an agreement and missed an opportunity for baseball to help bring the country back together.
“Major League Baseball had a great opportunity to open July 4,” said Warren. “What an unbelievable opportunity and they did not take advantage of that just because they couldn’t get a deal done. It could have been one of the biggest moments in our history. That is just sour.”
Warren made three appearances for the Mariners during Spring Training before being optioned to Tacoma. Last season, Warren was a September call up for the Mariners and he made the most of his opportunity.
In six appearances, Warren did not allow a run in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up two hits and walked two, while striking out five. Warren finished the season with a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP.
After the season was postponed in March, Warren took part in a charity Whiffle ball game that was hosted by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. Warren was named MVP of the game.
No schedule has been released for the 60-game season, but teams are going to play regionally with 10 games against each team in their division and the remaining 20 games against the same division in the opposite league.
For Warren this means being away from his family for at least three months.
“We have to prepare like nothing is going to be the same and the same is for family and friends coming out (to see me play),” he said. “I would prefer they not come out, especially my fiance. I do not want her coming here and contracting the virus.”
The prospects of a 60-game schedule for the Mariners, who have a young team, are exciting for Warren, who has been part of teams that have won professional titles in Fall League and minor leagues (AA).
“For 60 games, every club is fair game,” said Warren. “It will be an absolute sprint. I am excited to see how this is going to play out. I think the Mariners have a legit chance to be in the playoffs.”