Matt Blake's first year as pitching coach of the Yankees wasn't supposed to go this way. But, nevertheless, this is how things are with the league suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Blake's pitchers were starting to hit their stride, as they prepared for Opening Day that would've been this past Thursday. But now...well, Blake is working off an online spreadsheet to track their at-home workouts all over the country.
"There's no playbook here," Blake told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "Nobody's ever gone through it, so there's no tried-and-true recipe to fall back on."
Every pitcher is doing his own thing, with Gerrit Cole having catches with Aaron Boone up in Connecticut while James Paxton continues working his way back from back surgery out in Wisconsin. And then there's pitchers like J.A. Happ who needs to figure something else out, as Florida just issued a statewide stay-at-home order while he's been working out still in Tampa.
"It's like one of those like weird dreams where you're about to do something cool, then you wake up and it wasn't real," Blake said.
Hopefully Blake can live out that dream of his where he leads the Yankees' pitching staff in his own rookie season in 2020. MLB has yet to set a resume date for the league, but in the meantime, Blake is doing everything he can to stay on top of his pitchers and track their offseason progress while at his home outside Cleveland.
The hardest part is not having everyone in one place like he did at the team's Tampa facility. But he's also remaining sensitive to this situation, as baseball right now takes a backseat to everyone's health and well-being.
"You don't want to be burdensome because we want to give them a breather," he explained to MLB.com. "This is something very stressful for a lot of people and there are a lot of different circumstances."
It's not the way the Yankees and Blake would've liked to see it happen, but there is one positive that his pitching staff can take out of this. Paxton should be set to go once the Yankees' season does -- if at all -- resume. He was gunning for a mid-May return, and with the way things are going, he'll be set for whenever the season starts.
But Blake will worry about that when the time comes. For now, he'll continue to be present as much as possible with his staff as he also continues to try to wake up from the bad dream he -- and the rest of us -- are all in.