Atlanta Braves coaching staff among those at higher risk

When Health protocols are agreed upon, Atlanta Braves coaches will be noticing.

It stands to reason that MLB coaching staffs consist of people older than the players under their keep.  One trend the Atlanta Braves haven’t chased in recent years, though, has been this wave of young bucks to lead their team.

As a result, this coaching staff is chock full of men who are old enough to be the grandparents of some players on the roster — and of course it’s these who are more at risk for COVID-19 infection.

It starts at the top, but is by no means limited there:

  • Manager Brian Snitker:  will be 65 in mid-October.
  • 3rd base coach Ron Washington: 68 years old
  • Pitching coach Rick Kranitz:  will be 62 in mid-September
  • Asst. hitting coach Jose Castro:  62

For the record, hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and Eric “Young” Sr. are young whippersnappers by comparison: “just” 58 and 53 respectively.

Likewise, bullpen coach Marty Reed will soon be 59 and bench coach Walt Weiss is 56½.

The youngest of the entire staff appears to be catching instructor Sal Fasano, who will turn 49 in August (not counting bullpen catchers and BP pitchers).

That puts Atlanta in an interesting position.  3 MLB teams have 4 coaches or managers above 60 years of age:  the Braves, Astros, and Tigers.  The Astros are easily the oldest of the group with three of them at or above 70 (including Dusty Baker).  The Braves are next.

Some of the protocols in MLB’s monster document for health and safety including avoiding the touching of the face… which is part-and-parcel of what third base coaches do — a lot.

As Wash recently told Jayson Stark (subscription required), “there are aspects to these new rules he isn’t sure he can do the way he may be required to do them.”

Coaches aren’t sure they can hit fungoes to their players.  Washington is famous for his infield-sharpening drills in which he and an infielder are sitting down and tossing balls back-and-forth for reaction training.  The rules say that balls are supposed to be disinfected and that exchanges from one hand to another must be held to a minimum.  How can that happen?

Base coaches walk right up to runners on base to convey information directly while trying to keep enemy base defenders at arm’s length away.  Standing 10 feet away and hollering “HE’S BUNTING” isn’t exactly a good idea.

Maybe they’ll have to develop code words… like “Pineapple” or “Omaha” to mean various things.

Regardless of how they do it, these coaches all are aware that the safety protocols are more about them and keeping them safe more than anyone else on the field… but it’s going to be tough to break 30, 40, or 50 years of baseball habits.

Next: Children, please leave the room: adults talking

But for the Atlanta Braves?  The rules will matter more for them than for almost every other team.