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Trying to keep you informed — while keeping our distance — at Red Sox camp

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke was sympathetic to reporters operating under the new guidelines.Michael Reaves/Getty

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nomar Garciaparra was ahead of his time. Come to think of it, maybe David Price can come back to the Red Sox now.

Tuesday morning was Day One of having no reporters in the clubhouse at spring training. It was the same at every NBA, NHL, and MLS locker room in North America. The coronavirus has temporarily (perhaps) created an atmosphere that players crave. Can’t say that I blame them. Who would want all those prying eyes when you are at your workplace?

Let the record show that I was one of the last reporters to darken the doorstep of the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park before the ban was announced Monday night.


It was an uneventful experience, but I’ll tell you about it anyway since I may be the last Globie ever to work the Red Sox room at JetBlue.

It was early in the afternoon Monday. Most of the Red Sox regulars had done their early-morning workouts and gone home. A few were hanging around, waiting for a bus ride to North Port to play the Braves Monday night.

Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers prospect who will go down in history as the man hired to replace Mookie Betts, was hastily tying his shoes when I approached and asked if he had a moment.

"Sorry dude, gotta run,'' the young outfielder said politely. "Maybe catch you tomorrow.''

Hmmmm. Maybe not. Not now.

I had a nice conversation with John Andreoli, a 29-year-old outfielder who was born in Worcester and played at St. John’s in Shrewsbury, where his dad is still football coach. We talked about the many Holy Cross alums in his family and his decision to go to the University of Connecticut, where he played with Matt Barnes and George Springer. We talked about Tony Sanchez and Kevin Moran, guys he remembered playing against when they were at Boston College.


John Andreoli is the rare Bay State native who has a shot at contributing to the Red Sox.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Andreoli played a summer at Wahconah Park for Pittsfield in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

"Only place where they have sun delays,'' he recalled. "The sun sets over the center-field fence at the start of night games, and they would allow us to stop the game for about 20 minutes if the sun was getting in our eyes.''

With help from Red Sox interpreter Bryan Loor-Almonte, I had a few moments with new second baseman Jose Peraza, a 25-year-old Venezuelan who appeared in more than 500 games with the Reds the last four seasons. Peraza said he researched to find the team with the greatest need for a second baseman and concluded Boston was the best place for him to sign.

He said he wants to prove that he can be an everyday player. He said he looks forward to playing in Fenway Park, adding, "Playing in front of all those fans every day is what we play for.''

He is friendly with Red Sox starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez, both Venezuelans. Peraza said he doesn’t care where he hits in the lineup. A veteran of Venezuela’s hotly contested Caracas-Magallanes Caribbean Series, Peraza said he would not be intimidated by the intensity of Red Sox-Yankees games. He is wearing number 3 and he is your second baseman.

A few hours after my last loop in the locker room, the Red Sox PR staff sent out a media advisory regarding Tuesday access, stating, “The media relations staff will bring players and coaches out to the media bench between 9:15-10:15 a.m.” The memo advised reporters to request players in advance, and stated, “A minimum distance of 6 feet needs to be kept between the player/coach speaking to reporters.” (I think the Shaughnessy Rule is 10 feet.)


Reporters who requested interviews dutifully gathered by the outdoor interview bench at 9:15 Tuesday morning. They waited for just under two hours. In that time, the only players produced were Barnes and Brandon Workman, at the request of the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Sox fans who paid for the JetBlue Tour paraded through the Red Sox dugout.

Major League Baseball has joined with other leagues to move media away from players in the clubhouse, but has not yet committed to keeping fans from games in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

When the interview room opened around 11 a.m., the area had been reconfigured. Chairs were backed away — a safe and respectful 6 feet — from the interview table.

"I know that it’s harder on you [media] guys now,'' said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke. "We understand that, and I talked to the players and they need to be more accessible. When you guys need them, they need to be there for you. So I’m hoping that part is good.'’

Never mind us. What are the players thinking about the risk of coronavirus as they go to work, playing games in front of thousands of people?

"We’re all trying to learn more about it,'' said the manager. "Not just MLB, but what they are trying to do to stop this in the country and worldwide. Some players are more comfortable about this than others. They’re concerned about being out more in the public.


"I’m still high-fiving the players after good hits, and I think about it, and think maybe I should go inside and get some sanitizer. In baseball, it’s always hands. Whether it’s coronavirus or flu, we’re always touching each other’s hands. We’re trying to fist more, and elbow more.''

The Sox made some players available for group interviews during and after Tuesday’s exhibition game vs. the Cardinals at JetBlue. We all kept our 6-foot distance.

Welcome to Nomar Nirvana. More fists. More elbows. No handshakes. No high-fives. No spitting.

And no reporters in the clubhouse.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him @dan_shaughnessy.