On Saturday afternoon Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall spoke with the media for the final time during spring training. One of the things he talked about was the alternate site that will be in Louisville this year, and how they will play games against opponents – something that the alternate sites weren’t allowed to do last year.

“I’m actually encouraged by our alternate site,” said Krall. “I want to say we have 18-21 games scheduled with different alternate sites – people coming to our place, going to their place. I think that’s going to be real important. We didn’t have that last year. That’s going to give us game situations, and of those game situations more reps, more at-bats for our guys where they’re in a game environment.”

Something that I have seen brought up is the question of if they are going to play games, then why aren’t they just starting the season – which was originally planned to start in April, but was pushed back to May 4th. While there is no official reasoning stated, the overwhelming thought is that it basically comes down to travel by plane. Triple-A is the only level that does travel by plane, but unlike the big league clubs, they travel commercially. That means interacting with the public in confined spaces, and with the protocols in place, that’s not the most ideal situation.

The games that will be played by teams at the alternate site are going to be “regional”. While specifics weren’t given, expect Louisville to potentially play teams that may hold their alternate sites at Nashville, Indianapolis, Columbus, Toledo, and Memphis (I say may because I did not specifically look up where each big league team would be holding their alternate site, just assuming that those Triple-A facilities will be used by the parent club). Those are teams where travel by bus is reasonable to and from Louisville.

That, however, does bring up some reasonable question of: Why couldn’t the schedule just be re-worked to front load the Triple-A season with truly regional schedules where teams could travel by bus to the cities they play in April?

There could be plenty of reasons for that. First could be something as simple as this: While Triple-A/the alternate site will be there for Major League Baseball teams to reach down to for injury replacements, if someone is injured in Triple-A if the season were taking place in April, who do they call up? Minor League spring training doesn’t start until April and guys won’t be ready immediately to step into Triple-A and start playing.

While we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of all of this now that we have vaccines rolling out, we aren’t at the end of that tunnel just yet. We’re getting closer every day, though. Soon enough, hopefully, the protocols in place will be less stringent for a combination of reasons, and that will make air travel for Triple-A good to go, stadiums open to more and more fans, and something a lot closer to normal than what we’ve been dealing with for the last 13 months.

2 Responses

  1. Dan McSurley

    Does this mean there will be no minor league ball this year?

    • Doug Gray

      That is not what it means, no. Minor League season begins May 4th as of right now. But the big league team still needs to have players ready in case of performance and or injury, so an alternate site is still needed for April.