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Opening Day was supposed to be Thursday. Instead, Marlins and MLB wait for normal to return

Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald on

Published in Baseball

In a normal world, Thursday would have been Opening Day for the Miami Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball. The Marlins would be hosting the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Sandy Alcantara most likely would have thrown the first pitch to usher in the third season of the Marlins' rebuild. When the game ended, fans would meander over to the ballpark's new Biscayne Bay Brew Hall, the latest enhancement to the stadium over the past two years.

Things are far from normal right now.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has put sports and most aspects of day-to-day life on hold, meaning teams are having to adjust to a new way of life for the foreseeable future.

Games are on hold indefinitely, with mid-May seen as the earliest that teams can resume what would be even a semblance of normal baseball routine and June likely the best-case scenario for the season to start in earnest (although even that seems uncertain). It's the first time since 1995 that an MLB season did not start as originally scheduled.

Marlins Park is now serving as a drive-thru testing site for people 65 and older with possible symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The Florida National Guard is helping manage logistics at the ballpark, which already has surrounding streets closed and a parking lot marked off with cones for a staging area.

There are more than 54,000 confirmed cases in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including more than 1,600 confirmed cases in Florida alone. Two New York Yankees minor-leagues have tested positive for COVID-19, as has a spring training employee for the Cincinnati Reds.

 

For all intents and purposes, baseball understandably has become secondary at this point.

"We just wait. We make adjustments," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said at the team's training complex in Jupiter on March 12, hours before the league halted spring training and put baseball on standby. "This thing's going to keep changing."

The Marlins were feeling good about where they stood when baseball stopped. They had won 12 of their 18 Grapefruit League games, saw contributions from veterans and prospects alike and had a feeling that they were going to turn the corner after posting a combined 120-203 record during the past two seasons.

"We're getting there," shortstop Miguel Rojas said before play was suspended. "Our expectations are high, especially with the way that we're playing in spring training. I don't really care that it's just spring training. We're winning games. ... That's who we are right now."

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