Cubs prospect Young on coronavirus hiatus

Chicago Cubs prospect Jared Young is going to have to find something else to do with his time over the next few weeks, or perhaps months.

Major League Baseball canceled spring training on Thursday and announced it will delay by at least two weeks the opening day of the season, which was to be March 26.

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The players have been sent home while MLB considers its longer-term options in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Young is staying put in Mesa, Ariz., where the Cubs have their spring training base. He's certainly in no hurry to come home to Prince George, which was hit with an Arctic blast on the weekend which dropped wind chills close to -30 C.

"They just told us that for player and fan safety it's been postponed and to take care of yourself for the time being," said Young. "We don't really know very much either.

"You have the option of going home to be with your family or staying and I've got my apartment down here and everything, so I stayed here. In the coming days when we find out more I'll probably be working out on my own and training at a local park and maybe get a few guys together to see what we can do.

"There's definitely no Cubs activity. It's an uneasy feeling right now not knowing what's going on."

Young's routine as an athlete has been interrupted by a rapidly-spreading virus visible only to a microscope and there's no end in sight.

"It's unlike anything I've dealt with, this will be the first time ever I'm not playing baseball in March and April and almost seems like the off-season with all the uncertainty," he said. "The grocery stores are crazy down here. People are stocking up. It's new to everybody."

Young had just started camp with the Cubs' minor leaguers and between workouts joined the major league players for afternoon games in the Cactus League. In seven games and eight at-bats coming in off the bench he had two hits, stole one base and scored two runs, compiling a .250 batting average.

Asked which of those games stood out as a highlight, Young responded: "All of them, getting to take part in that is something that I'll never ever take for granted, it's exciting. My uncle was able to come down and catch a few of them and that was pretty special. It was nice seeing him."

The Cubs drafted Young in 2017 in the 15th round from Old Dominion University in Virginia. He advanced rapidly through the system and was picked as the Cubs' minor league player of the year in 2018. Last year he played for the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League, considered one of baseball's toughest double-A leagues. In 123 games he collected 107 hits playing mostly at first base and sometimes in the outfield. He hit .235 with five home runs and had 57 runs batted in.

The Cubs selected Young for the Mesa Solar Sox, their Arizona Fall League team, and he played 14 games in September and October, picking up nine hits and four RBI in 46 at-bats. He scored four runs and posted a .196 batting average.

Young, who turns 25 on July 9, has added a bit of bulk to his six-foot-one, 185-pound frame over the off-season and he's been swinging the bat well lately. He was looking forward to making a good impression on the Cubs staff, knowing if he plays well enough he will continue to climb the ladder in the organization.

Young's infield teammate with the Smokies last year, shortstop Nico Hoerner, was called up to Chicago in September and made an impact right away, sticking in the majors for the rest of the season. Hoerner is now second on the depth chart behind starting shortstop Javier Baez.

For Young, that just makes his own major league dreams seem that much more possible.

"I feel great, every year going into spring training you have to be in tiptop shape and I like to think I am and we'll see where this year takes me," he said.

"I'm obviously optimistic. I feel that last season was a bit of down year but one year in the long run isn't going to kill you. You just have to bounce back and it will be fine. I had a couple hits in the big-league games and that's really a big test, against the best in the world. If you can go out there and do your thing and have success, you'll be just fine. If you play well you'll always move up, good things will happen."




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