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Baseball ‘Zooms’ in to start unprecedented summer camp

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, right, watches from the dugout during the first inning of a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals on Feb. 21 in Surprise, Ariz. (AP file photo)

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward was going to address his entire team before the start of MLB’s unprecedented summer training camp, just like he did when spring training opened about 4 1/2 months ago. It was on a Zoom call instead of in person this time.

When the New York Mets resume practice, 60-year-old hitting coach Chili Davis will be working with hitters remotely and not initially at Citi Field with players and other staff members. The Seattle Mariners have three assistant coaches who fall into the high-risk category for the coronavirus and will work remotely all season.

At Fenway Park in Boston

, weights and other exercise equipment were set up Thursday in the concourse under the seats that Red Sox fans won’t be allowed to occupy when the season finally starts.

Things certainly are different for baseball’s resumption amid the pandemic, three weeks before the start of a 60-game regular season. The Rangers, Mets, Mariners and Red Sox are among the teams set for their first official summer workouts today, along with the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals minus first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross after they opted out of the season.

After the Toronto Blue Jays received a Canadian government exemption Thursday to work out at Rogers Centre, every team will be at its home ballpark to restart preseason workouts that abruptly came to a halt March 12 in Arizona and Florida.

The Detroit Tigers' C.J. Cron, right, is greeted by teammate Christin Stewart after a solo home run during a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 10 in Lakeland, Fla. (AP file photo)

The Rangers will hold the first official team activity in their new retractable-roof stadium, even though some players have been working out there for several weeks. Players will be in different groups and times for workouts after Woodward’s remarks by video conference.

Along with some similarity to what he said in February when the team initially gathered at its spring training complex in Surprise, Arizona, Woodward is focusing on the protocols and safeguards put in place by MLB in response to COVID-19, and the urgency of being ready for the sprint of a season that will be 102 games shorter than usual.

“This is a little different. Following protocols, being safe, making sure we’re on time, sticking to schedules, those are things that are critical for our success this year,” he said. “If we can limit the amount of exposure we have, or the risk factor in getting this virus, the team that keeps their people on the field, their players on the field, is probably going to have an advantage.”

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