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The Boys Are (Somewhat) Back in Town

Guess who’s back. Back again. Baseball’s back. Tell a friend.

The field at PNC Park contained a welcome sight yesterday—various Pirates cavorting about in black and gold workout gear. Gregory Polanco was among those players there, as was Kevin Newman. The first official workout isn’t until tomorrow, but Bucs manager Derek Shelton, like the rest of us, is “fired up” to see everyone coming back per an interview on the Pirates’ website.

MLB technically opened back up yesterday, but the first few days for just about every team, including the Pirates, will consist of screening and testing. Players will have their temperatures taken every other day and be asked about possible COVID-19 symptoms every day. However, bear in mind that MLB can’t publicly identify players who test positive, although some observation and math will undoubtedly out those who do. It should also be noted that Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday that until further notice, masks are to be worn at all times if social distancing can’t be maintained. In his interview, Shelton said that so far no Pirate has opted out of playing this season. Don’t be surprised, though, if Bryan Reynolds’s season ends early, as he and his wife are expecting a baby boy in September and Reynolds has publicly said that he intends to be there for the birth.

It hasn’t been finalized, but it appears that the Bucs will start the 2020 season against the Cardinals in St. Louis when the season begins on July twenty-third/twenty-fourth. As of yet, there has been no word about exhibition games. Given the short duration of summer camp and the current spike in COVID-19 cases around the country, I really won’t be surprised if there aren’t any, although both Shelton and Bucs general manager Ben Cherington are optimistic that there’ll be at least a couple of games.

There may not be Chris Archer, Kevin Kramer and Edgar Santana, but the good news is that Steven Brault, Erik Gonzalez and Clay Holmes, who were all injured when spring training was suspended in March, are healthy and ready to go. Per Shelton:

“But to be able to do our own assessments in terms of how their bodies are, then watching soft-tissue-wise what happens in the next three weeks are really important for those guidelines. That’s probably going to be the biggest part of how we’re going to do the assessment. Because of the evaluation we had in Spring Training and the fact that we were 19 games in or whatever it was, we have a pretty good idea of where we’re at.”