While local athletes are waiting to see what the future holds for spring sports, the same can be said for players at the professional level, including former Wildcat and Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher David Hess.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball was prepared to hold Opening Day ceremonies on March 26. However, the start of the season was delayed and players were sent home on March 13. As of press time, MLB has not released an anticipated date on when it’s hopeful to have games played.
When the league decided to end spring training earlier than anticipated, players were forced to disband and head elsewhere, and Hess returned home to Simpsonville, South Carolina. Despite away from his teammates, Hess said that he is still putting in plenty of work, stating that he’s continuing to work out and train every day.
“I’ve been fortunate because I found a facility here that’s open and I’m able to go in and get throwing and get some workouts in there,” Hess said. “I’m just trying to be safe with that. Then also one of the local minor league teams [Greenville Drive], has opened up its stadium for a handful of the pro guys to come over a couple of days a week. I’ve been making do with everything through that and just trying to stay as ready as possible.”
Despite being away from the team, Hess said that he’s been in constant contact with Orioles organization. Hess said that he has been routinely checking in with the Baltimore coaching staff to let them know what he’s been up to, while his coaches have been supplying their recommendations.
“Our strength staff set up some workouts and sent those over to us, which is really helpful,” Hess said. “I’ve been in touch with our bullpen coach and our pitching coach to make sure that they know what I’m doing, and if they have any suggestions then they pass that along. They sent us home, but we have a throwing program to follow, just to stay in shape and be ready to go for hopefully whenever we get back and play baseball again.”
When play will get underway is still the biggest unknown for players. While uncertainty looms, there have been plenty of discussions on how the season could conclude.
There have been murmurs that league could possibly shorten the season or even extend it into November. Additionally, there have been talks of playing seven-inning doubleheaders during the course of the year. The seven-inning doubleheader option is currently in use at the minor league level.
Like every other player, Hess is waiting to hear MLB’s ruling. However, he doesn’t hate the idea of bringing that doubleheader method to the major league level.
“I think at this point everybody’s main priority is just to play as many games as possible,” he said. “I think that they’ve thrown around a few ideas and I think that the consensus that I’ve gotten from talking to other people is if doubleheaders are the best option then that’s what we want to do because that gives us the best opportunity to play as many games as we can.”
The way Hess sees it, scheduling doubleheaders will be beneficial to players and organizations alike.
“It’s good for the players because they’re getting to go out and get paid for what they’re being paid to do,” Hess said. “Then I think it gives the ownership and the league a chance to make a little bit more money. I think everybody across the board wants to get in as many games as possible.”
Hess said the biggest questions would probably come from a managerial side. With so many games taking place, it would force coaches to rethink their normal strategies.
“The questions will be who is pitching when and how are we going to set all this up with position players and making sure that every player gets a little bit of rest?,” Hess said. “I think that would be the biggest challenge with it.”
Hess is a 2011 Tullahoma High School graduate. After attending Tennessee Tech, he was selected by the Orioles in the 2014 MLB Draft. He has spent his whole career with the Orioles organization.
Hess made his debut for the Orioles in Baltimore in May 2018. The right-handed pitcher shined in his debut, picking up the win in the Orioles’ 6-3 victory. In six innings pitched, he allowed three runs on six hits and struck out three batters.
Hess spent the majority of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Orioles. In January 2019, Hess had his No. 12 jersey retired by the Tullahoma High School baseball team.