Ben Rortvedt may not be superstitious, but whether there is a Minor League Baseball season for him and the Minnesota Twins remains a question mark.
The Verona Area High School alumnus was a 2016 second-round pick of the Twins. He was a non-roster invitee to Major League spring training the past two years.
Rortvedt, 22, was in spring training with the Twins in Fort Myers, Florida for about three weeks before Major League Baseball suspended spring training and the start of the season on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Major League Baseball is considering several options for a shortened season, including playing the season with all teams quarantined in Arizona and playing games at spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.
Rortvedt isn’t sure whether there will be a minor league baseball season this year.
“It’s all just speculation,” he said. “I’m crossing my fingers.”
Rortvedt was preparing for his fourth professional season with the Twins. He said the challenge is not having a timeline to prepare for an unknown season.
“I’m just trying to maintain my body and swing,” he said. “That way when we hear there is an end and a start date in mind, we are not working from a cold-turkey standpoint.”
Rortvedt has moved back to Verona and is lifting weights, running and taking batting practice in a batting cage he has access to.
“I’m just trying to work on my swing so when we do start, I can get up to speed,” he said. “There are no resources out there right now. You are on your own.”
Rortvedt played catcher at two levels last season. He started with the Twins’ Single-A team, the Fort Myers Miracle, in Fort Myers, Florida. He was called up to Double-AA and played with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Southern League in Pensacola, Florida.
Rortvedt hit .238 with a .334 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 29 RBIs last year. He starred defensively, throwing out 51.7% (30 of 58) of potential base-stealers.
The Verona native moved out of the apartment he was leasing for two months in Florida. If baseball returns, he will have to see if he can sign a longer lease.
Initially, minor leaguers were going to be paid through April 7 when MLB suspended spring training.
“We all knew it was a possibility,” he said. “We didn’t know how serious it was. “When we saw the NBA got shut down, it was just another day and we were done.”
Many players were in limbo about whether they would have an income and health insurance during the shutdown. On March 31, MLB announced it would pay minor leaguers a $400 weekly stipend through May 31 to ensure they would have health insurance.
“It’s nice to have some compensation in the down time,” Rortvedt said. “It’s a relief.”
If the suspended baseball season is extended past May 31, there will be questions about whether minor league players will get paid. Traditionally, minor leaguers are not paid in the offseason.
When and if the minor league season resumes, there will be a short spring training before games.