Gyorko Biding His Time, Awaiting For Baseball’s Return
How does a Major League Baseball player pass the time while adhering to stay-at-home mandates?
Post viral videos of trick cornhole throws.
Instead of spending his days on the baseball diamond, Jedd Gyorko has been home in Morgantown the past month and a half, where he is sequestered along with his wife, Karley, and their three children.
Part of his entertainment routine is tossing beanbags up, over and around various obstacles and at the cornhole target. A game normally reserved for backyards and tailgates has taken on new dimensions now when looking for something to do during the idle hours. Video clips of Jedd’s exploits have been viewed by tens of thousands on the Internet.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve just been really bored,” chuckled Gyorko when asked about the inspiration behind his stunts. “I needed a break from trying to teach my kids kindergarten. I stepped back and had some fun.
“It’s a nice being able to spend all this time with my family, though I don’t think my (six-year-old twin) boys think much of my teaching skills.”
A WVU alum and Morgantown native, Gyorko was planning on being knee deep into his eighth Major League season right now, but the global pandemic has shut down many things, including the MLB season to date.
“We all want to get out there and play, but the main goal is to keep yourself away from people and try to keep as many people safe as we can,” he said. “We’re all anxious to play, but keeping everyone safe is the No. 1 goal.”
Gyorko’s final season at West Virginia in 2010 saw him bat .381 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He was named the Brooks Wallace Award winner at the end of that year, an honor that is presented annually to the best shortstop in college baseball.
Drafted in the second round with the 59th overall pick after the 2010 campaign by San Diego, Gyorko started his climb through the minors that summer before breaking in with the Padres in 2013. He spent three seasons in San Diego and then was traded to St. Louis in 2016. He remained with the Cardinals into 2019 before being dealt late in the season to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A free agent this past offseason, the 31-year-old inked a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, which also contains a club option for 2021.
“This is great group of guys,” Gyorko said of his new team, which was 89-73 last season and lost a 4-3 decision in the NL wildcard game to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals. “They’re very hungry to go out and prove people wrong yet again. That’s what they’ve done the last couple of years, and they have that same mentality, even though they have a bunch of new guys like myself.
“We were starting to gel this spring, and I look forward to getting back with them.”
Gyorko, who figures to platoon at third base with Milwaukee this season, had played in seven spring training games earlier this year when things were shuttered. He had four hits in 14 at bats (.286 average). As a veteran with 804 career Major League games under his belt and a lifetime batting average of .245 with 112 home runs, he knows what it takes to get ready for a season.
“I don’t mind missing spring training, because it does begin to drag on,” he admitted. “It was just starting to pick up, so I do miss that part.
“They are talking about holding a two- to three-week spring training when we do return, and that sounds about perfect to me.”
Gyorko was in Arizona for the Brewers’ spring training in March when everything was shutdown by the virus.
“It happened so fast. Things were literally changing by the hour. One hour we were getting ready to go out and have a normal practice, and the next hour they said, ‘Let’s wait and see,’ and the next hour I’m in the middle of the country driving home,” recalled Gyorko of the MLB decision to shutdown spring training on March 12.
Baseball officials released everyone to return to their families, and Jedd loaded up his truck and drove more than 2,000 miles back to Morgantown.
He’s not been completely idle in the seven weeks since.
“I’m getting workouts in on my own now, and doing throwing and hitting when I can,” explained Gyorko, who held the career scoring record in basketball at University High until it was broken this past winter by Bowling Green-bound Kaden Metheny. “Most importantly, I’m doing my part in terms of staying apart from everyone else.
“The tough part of the situation now is I feel really good,” he added. “I think this offseason was as good as any I’ve had in my career. I feel as healthy as I have in years. I had wrist surgery last year, and that was an important part of getting healthy. The wrist had been holding me back the past couple of years, because the pain was always there. But I feel good now, as good as I’ve felt in three or four years.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said recently that “I fully anticipate baseball will return this season,” but exactly when and in what form – with fans or without being the main question – remains to seen.
You would think Major League Baseball would keep its players informed about what is going to happen, but that’s not necessarily the case at this point.
“I get most of my information off Twitter, just like everyone else,” noted Gyorko. “There are a lot of rumors going around, but until there is something concrete, I don’t think we’ll hear much. I’ll hear from the team once things get close.”
Until then, for Jedd it’s individual workouts, kindergarten teaching and cornhole trick shots.