When the world shut down at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB players were forced to leave work like many other Americans. Without access to their usual training facilities, they had to work out on their own.
According to an article by The Athletic's Brittany Ghiroli, a few big names decided to get together for training and pick-up games.
Here's an excerpt from Ghiroli's story:
"Luke Jackson had nowhere to throw when baseball shut down. So, the Atlanta Braves right-hander got desperate, watched some YouTube videos, and built a makeshift mound. He was throwing alone in his driveway in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. when he got the fateful text.
“Hey, if you ever need to throw live,” said Eric Cressey, who Jackson has known and trained with since 2011, “we are having a small group of guys here.”
Jackson immediately hopped in the car and drove to Palm Beach, which houses one of two Cressey Sports Performance gyms. With most of the country shut down, it was a quick 90-minute commute. Jackson wasn’t sure what to expect. What he found was a who’s who of Major League stars.
A group that included Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton and more than 30 other big leaguers had quietly been working together - from a safe distance. They formed a secret baseball group while playing at Palm Beach Gardens High School.
What a sight that must have been. Imagine driving down the street or taking a stroll through the town of Palm Beach gardens and you see a group that includes three Cy Young winners and two MVPs playing pick-up baseball. These matchups almost sound better than what you would see at the MLB All-Star Game.
The story from Ghiroli says that the players kept their distance from one another and were careful throughout their time playing together, keeping their health in mind.
During the final week of June, the players organized two nine-inning games so they could get some live reps in before heading to summer training.
If you want to be the best at your craft, you've got to face off against the best. It's good to see these players took things into their own hands when they weren't able to play league-sanctioned training games anymore. Now in a few weeks we'll see how much these pick-up games really helped them.