Baseball is back.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Major League Baseball Players Association and its owners agreed to a return to play, which begins with players reporting to their clubs on July 1. The plan after that is three weeks of practice and training, with a 60-game season starting on either July 23 or 24.
The 60-game regular season schedule is a drastic departure from the traditional 162-game MLB season, but much of the scheduled season has already been lost due to disputes between players and owners during the COVID-19 pandemic as a return to play was negotiated.
The stage was set for a return on Tuesday, as terms including health and safety protocols during the ongoing pandemic were agreed upon.
Mid-Pacific alum and Texas Rangers infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa has stayed in shape and has remained as ready as he can despite the uncertain times.
“It’s been a really, really tough time,” Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Teas Rangers told KHON2’s Rob DeMello. “A lot of back and forth, a lot of arguments, a lot of unnecessary stuff. We’ve been ready to go, we wanted to play. Now that we got the opportunity to go out there, it’s time to go. No excuses, we’ve had since September to get ready.
“Even though we haven’t been able to get the live pitching in and live at-bats, it is what it is. Everybody’s gotta deal with it. It’s gonna be fun to go out there and show for our state.”
To former Saint Louis star and current Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, the consensus among fellow ballplayers is an eagerness to get started. There will not be a summer without baseball in 2020, and despite being on reduced salaries due to the shortness of the season, players will be out there doing what they love.
“It’s definitely a relief. You can talk to any baseball player at this time, we’re just anxious. We’re anxious to get out there and play,” Yamamoto said. “I’ve done a bunch of zoom calls and I was fortunate enough to go on calls with college teams and how I’m staying in the mindset of the season and getting ready but in reality it’s a relief because I miss it, everybody misses it, we just all miss being out there, being able to just perform and making the fans happy and the community happy.
“It’s one of those things where we doing that we love and it’ll definitely be a relief.”
Washington Nationals catcher and Maui native Kurt Suzuki has also remained game ready even as his teammates remain scattered across the globe. That will change in a little over a week, when the Nationals can finally begin their quest to defend their World Series title.
“Our workouts are pretty much what I would be doing if I was at the field. I’m hitting, I’m throwing, working out, physical strength and conditioning stuff. My body when I get back there, I should be close to be ready to go<’ Suzuki said. “Just getting in those reps of blocking balls again, just getting in the flow of the game and things like that.
“That being said, it’s not as easy as you think it would be to go out there, especially being a catcher. You gotta catch and the physical toll it takes on your body, you can’t really train for that so I think it’s gonna take a little longer than you might expect but the main thing is that we’re able to get out there.”