On Friday, teams across Ontario were able to host practices again for the first time in months due to Step 1 of the provincial government’s reopening plan. While there were limitations — as there always seem to be these days — the first practices were seen as a tremendous success. Teams were able to practice their hitting, fielding, and take bullpens; all in preparation for the upcoming season.
One of the teams in action were the 18U Oshawa Legionaires. Head coach, Jayson DesLauriers, was very enthuastic about his players’ attitudes in their return to practice. “I can tell you that big smiles were seen, diving plays, and some thunderous hits!” Being pent up at home for months, the players seemed to get a release from finally being with their teammates again in a baseball setting.
As expected, there were regulations that needed to be met to ensure the safety of all involved with practices during Step 1. According to Baseball Ontario, only outdoor practices are allowed and teams must train in a maximum of two groups of 10 players each with no crossing between the groups at any point during the practice. “Two groups were made of infielders and outfielders plus a catcher in each group. Never crossed paths,” DesLauriers explained on how his practice was structured. “Different, not ideal, but worked.” Equipment that was used by one group needed to be fully sanitized before being allowed to be used by the other group on the field.
Currently, there is a lack of clarification for what steps for Return to Play are up next for Steps 2 and 3. It is expected that groups will merge into a full team practice, however, there is no official word on that yet. In the last couple of weeks, the online discussion was quite angry as the opening of other sports — such as golf — seemed random as the baseball leagues remiained closed. With the public outcry, it seems that the plan has been course corrected for the time being.
The PBLO season was scheduled to begin May 1st, but was unfortunately pushed back. This news is a step in the right direction as we move toward Opening Day and competitive baseball for the young players around the league. As DesLauriers said, “Nice and relaxing practice today and tomorrow. Hard grind goes Tuesday!”