SURPRISE, Ariz. — It's not back to normal, but baseball is set to play 162 games. There will some fans in some stands. And Spring Training is happening.
The Royals will take that deal.
The club opened Wednesday with its first pitchers and catchers workout of 2021.
Second-year manager Mike Matheny was more than ready for baseball in the desert.
"The sun feels really good, not to rub it in," Matheny said in reference to the record-setting low temperatures in the Midwest.
The Royals – and the rest of baseball – are coming off a COVID-19-shortened, 60-game season in 2020. Matheny said his team wasn't ready to end the season last September and that was apparent on Wednesday.
"It's been exciting around here because a lot of guys showed up early," Matheny said. "Everybody showed up ready to go."
It was certainly a different offseason over the past four-plus months, Matheny said. But the manager still had contact with his players.
"We're watching their videos. We get to Zoom in on some of their bullpens and some of their batting practice sessions," Matheny said. "So we just feel like we're a little further along."
Matheny said he's thrilled with an offseason haul that could create three new position players in the lineup and a new starter in the rotation.
"Every move we made, whether it was Michael Taylor early, then it was on to (Carlos) Santana and Mike Minor. We get Holly (Greg Holland) and bring back Wade (Davis) and obviously Benny (Andrew Benintendi) more recently," Matheny said. "My phone was blowing up with some of the players saying, 'Oh yeah, that helps us. Here we go.'"
The first full squad workout will be Monday, Feb. 22. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the team is limited to just 75 players in camp.