Until recently it didn’t look like there would be a Rockford Rivets season because of the coronavirus, but that all changed in the blink of an eye. Now the guys are in hurry-up mode getting ready for a season opener on Wednesday.
35 players from various colleges reported last week. Their first workout was Saturday. Wednesday they’ll play ball against the LaCrosse Loggers.
Their enthusiasm level is off the charts.
“Right, you don’t have to ask them twice to take the tarp off the field,” said mananger Josh Keim. “At this point in the summer usually you’re begging for kids to come out and play, and now they’re excited to come out and play in July.”
“When Josh texted me and said we were having a season I was so pumped and ready go go, but it’s definitely big,” said third baseman and Fighting Illini player Cam McDonald.
So how long is it going to take McDonald to get his batting eye back and get back in the groove?
“I think I’m ready to go honestly.”
All of the players were tested for coronavirus when they arrived in town. Their temperatures are checked each day when the arrive at the stadium. There will be protocols in place for the players to try to safeguard their health during practice and games.
Rivets third baseman Jake Vander Wal says he’s not concerned about the virus.
“Honestly no. They’ve got the rules for like things that have to happen in the dugout. I think those are important rules, but we’re outside. There’s enough distance. It’s warm weather. No, it’s, I think it’s fine.”
Shorstop Branden Comia says the virus is something he can’t completely block out of his mind.
“It’s defintely in the back of my mind. It’s not something that goes away, but you know we’ll be safe out here. I think that’s their biggest concern as far as the coaches and the office and everything that everyone stays safe.”
Rivets Stadium seats 3500 plus standing room. Crowds though will be limited to around 1200 people. Face masks are encouraged but they’re not required.
“The big key is we can socially distance people inside the stadium,” said Rivets General Manager Chad Bauer. “One of the things we’re going to do to help alleviate concession lines and things is we’re going to try to run more wait staff where we go down to your seat and take an order and deliver the food to your seat in some sections, so that’s going to alleviate a lot of the crowds up on the concourse.”
Railings will be wiped down frequently and fans will be offered plenty of hand wipes and sanitizer when exciting and entering restrooms and around the concourse.
Wednesday’s season opener in Loves Park will begin at 6:05.