GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Major League Baseball are four days removed from what should’ve been the start of their 2020 season. With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the globe, the league was forced to send players home, including former Gulfport standout and current Yankees pitcher, Jonathan Holder.
“Yeah man it’s weird. It’s definitely a frustrating time. I know my teammates and I are really excited to get back whenever it’s safe," Holder told WLOX.
"It’s just a weird, unexpected thing that we’re all trying to adjust to together.”
The New York Yankees confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 when one of their minor league players - who has remained nameless - tested positive. The minor-league camp was located just a mile away from Holder and the rest of the big leaguers in Tampa where they resided for spring training.
“We knew we had not been in contact with him or anywhere close. We did what we could to the best of our ability just to stay clean and stay sterile as much as possible," Holder said. "I’m glad that he’s doing alright, but it definitely could be serious.”
After 34 games in 2019, Holder boasted a record of 5-2 where he threw 46 strikeouts in over 40 innings with a 6.31 ERA. With the delay, he’s now back home in Gulfport and doing what he can to stay in shape.
“Yeah I got weights in my house. My wife and I come in the backyard and get a workout in and walk our dog around the neighborhood and go for jogs," Holder told WLOX.
"Hopefully when this thing is done, we’ll be ready to jump back into spring training mode again.”
There’s no way to predict when Opening Day will be, but Holder has a feeling the season will be a lot shorter than what they’re used to.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to play 162 games," Holder said. "I know that every player out there will be fighting to play as many games as possible because we love to play ball games. That all depends on how many games we play and what the end of the season looks like.”
Jonathan tells WLOX that he's ready to go out and play as many games as the Yankees will let him play. Holder plays catch in the backyard with his little brother to keep his arm loose.
Jonathan also says New York’s athletic trainer checks in regularly with him and his teammates via FaceTime to make sure they are symptom free and staying in shape for whenever the MLB returns.