BLUE ASH, Ohio — Drew Mouch was "super excited" to get back on the field with his Cincinnati Baseball Club amateur team Tuesday. He was beginning to think the baseball season would pass him by.
"We kind of got our high school season snubbed from us," said Mouch, a junior at Wyoming.
And then COVID-19 put the amateur season in doubt.
"We got on the field to warm up for a scrimmage, but then it got rained out and that was one week before the quarantine started, and then we never really got back on the field after that," Mouch said.
Amateur spring sports like baseball, softball, golf and tennis with "limited contact” were allowed to resume in Ohio on Tuesday, but under safety guidelines to protect players and coaches from COVID-19 and each other.
WCPO 9 talked to members of the Cincinnati Baseball Club, a top amateur youth program, and an orthopedic surgeon to discuss adjustments they have to make.
"The games and the atmosphere are definitely going to be a little bit different," said Mouch, an outfielder.
Baseball players are used to being distanced from each other on the field, but not in the dugout. That might take some getting used to.
“We’re going to have to wear masks in the dugout if we’re not playing,” said Mouch, an outfielder.
Mouch said some players will even have to sit in the stands because there won’t be enough room to have them socially distanced in the dugout when the team is at bat.
The stands won’t be crowded, though, because fans won’t be permitted to sit there.
Fans have to bring their own chairs, said Max Tramontana, a pitcher and infielder who attends Moeller High School. Players won't be allowed to high-five or hug, he said.
"I think baseball is a really good sport that they can keep us 6 feet apart," Tramontana said. "I think we’re all just so excited to get out and play that we’ll take whatever rules they give us."
Head coach Cary Daniel says there may be changes to the game itself.
"Umpiring positioning hasn’t been determined. It may be different than where we’ve seen umpires in the past," Daniel said. "Situational things such as holding players on at first place may look different.
"I think the biggest adjustment will be parents not being able to sit in stands and having to sit in chairs and having to spread themselves around the field."
The Cincinnati Baseball club plays its first tournament June 11 in Westfield, Indiana.
"The guys are anxious, so the biggest thing is keeping them safe, not only from a sterilization standpoint but a physical standpoint," Daniel said.
That's where orthopedic surgeons like Dr. Timothy Kremchek come in with preventing and treating injuries.
"Stretching and warming up are very important. These are muscles they haven’t used in a long time," said Kremchek, head surgeon at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and also the Team Medical Director and Chief Orthopedic Surgeon for the Cincinnati Reds.
Kremchek said he expects injuries to increase.
"Normally at this time of year, if somebody gets hurt, it’s not a problem. We’ve had to go great lengths over these past four or five days to open up our clinics to be available every Saturday morning," he said.
"I expect these injuries are going to go way up because of so many people out, not just the kids playing ball, but if you looked at this weekend, everybody was out, riding bikes, doing everything.
“In our office we still have to maintain our protocols of screening people before they come in, not allowing a lot of people in at once. Yet we still have to understand the expediency that these athletes need.”
Basketball and other indoor and higher contact sports have to wait, however, Kremchek noted.
"Most of the winter sports – basketball and all that – is not quite back yet,” Kremchek said. “That’s close quarters, indoors. I think we have to be a little bit understanding that that has to wait.”