During the endless days of spring training, or even the slogging grind of the regular season, trying to get Tim Laker for an interview is almost impossible. Heck, locating him is difficult.
As the Mariners' hitting coach, and with a maniacal work ethic, he's always on the job, whether it's observing and instructing in the batting cages, analyzing video, reviewing scouting reports or holding on-field batting practice.
But with baseball shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, Laker doesn't have film to watch, instruction to provide or batting practice to throw. He's sheltering in place like everyone else. So he was available to talk via conference call Wednesday.
"I'm in Southern California at home," he said. "For me, my days are a lot of TV. I do text and keep in touch with some of the coaches, some of the hitters, stuff like that, but pretty much a lot of sitting on the couch, playing with my dog and watching TV. And some Twitter time, too, of course. It seems like everybody's always on Twitter now."
He was supposed to be working in the third week of the 2020 season. Now he's just hoping for a season.
"It's really weird," he said. "As long as I've been in baseball -- 1988 was my first year, and the years are flying by, that's like 32 years now -- I've had a baseball season. This is the first time without it. ... It's different. It's frustrating."
So with his hitters spread out across the country, Laker is monitoring them via phone calls and texts with assistant hitting coach Jarret DeHart.
"We're just making sure guys are trying to stay in shape as best they can," he said. "You feel like that's one thing guys can do. Everybody has access to some home workout equipment, stuff like that, they can go out and run. All of the coaches kind of divvied up the team, and we're all making sure somebody talks to everybody every week, kind of checks in with them and sees what they're doing."
Some players can do more than others. Second baseman Shed Long has a place to hit in a cage, but designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach does not.
"What we found out is there's only a couple of guys who have access to places to hit," Laker said. "A lot of guys, as much as they'd like to hit and stay in baseball shape, it's kind of impossible because the facilities aren't available. ...