CHICAGO – As players and staff arrive at their home ballparks, the differences start when they first pull in.
“They park in designated spots. There’s a car space between each spot – something we are not use to,” explained Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations Terry Savarise.
Anyone who enters the stadium is required to go through a health screening site which includes temperature checks and questionnaires filled out at home or at the ballpark.
“If somebody does develop symptoms in the ballpark or has a high temperature scan on a couple different reads, there are isolation rooms we will put them into and there’s some accelerated testing,” Savarise noted.
At Guaranteed Rate Field, crews have been working on plans since spring training closed to outfit the park for new healthy and safety protocols.
Locker room layouts have changed to increase social distancing. Crews created indoor tunnels, added weight training space, expanded dugouts with assigned seats and built additional pitching mounds down the right and left field lines, complete with hand sanitizing stations.
“It’s a bit of a different feel, but I think baseball players – once they get into their routine a couple days of getting themselves back into playing shape – I’m pretty sure that’s going to become the focus,” remarked Savrise. “Hopefully, everything else becomes – although it’s important for everyone trying to keep them safe – not something they’re worrying about on a daily basis.”
At Wrigley, Theo Epstein knows the health and safety measures will continue to evolve as the activity inside the stadiums ramp up.
“We’re going to continue making adjustments as we go. We’ve been setting up the park based on the protocols and based on an understanding in our minds of how this is going to operate, creating the appropriate social distance in the clubhouse, spreading out the lockers by a significant distance, using both clubhouses, taking over rooms and putting lockers in there, moving the weight room outdoors, moving meeting rooms outdoors, moving basically anything we can outdoors.”
Baseball in 2020 will not look anything like it has in the past. But, if there is to be baseball this summer, everyone must embrace the change.