Pandemic-shortened season may be costly for Drillers’ player development

Tulsa Drillers manager Scott Hennessey is bracing for the challenges of an abbreviated season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Player development is the name of the game in the Texas League.

“Here’s where I think the challenge is," Hennessey said Tuesday. "Where guys are at in their career like [right-handed pitcher] Josiah Gray, [right-hander] Edwin Uceta. For them to have a good year developmentally, they’re going to need 140-150 innings. And they’re just not going to get that this year. Guys like [infielder] Christian Santana, he needs games and he needs ABs.”

Hennessey said he and the team is taking the virus threat seriously. At the same time, they’re aching to get back to Spring Training.

“Your mind starts to play mind games on you, because this is the first time in the month of March where I haven’t done anything baseball," Hennessey said.

He said Tuesday he and his staff plan to call his players three to four times a week.

“We’re making sure they have a place to throw, making sure they’re doing fine mentally, making sure their families are doing well,” Hennessey said.

He said the season appears to be on hold through at least the end of May. Even then, the forecast looks grim.

“From what I’m hearing, we should feel really lucky if we get to go back June 1. And it’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get ready. So hopefully we’re playing baseball in July. And I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.”