On-field meetings, handshakes and high-fives – a staple of baseball games traditionall – are off the table under new COVID-19 return-to-play protocols for the sport as teams return to the field this week. (Zachary Lucy Photography. courtesy of White Rock Tritons)

‘The guys are excited’ says White Rock Tritons coach as baseball teams return to field

COVID-19 protocols include on-field player limits, equipment usage

The boys of summer are back on the field.

In small groups, at least.

With Baseball BC’s return-to-play plan approved and park permits issued, members of the White Rock Tritons junior baseball team returned to their home field at South Surrey Athletic Park this week, lacing up their cleats as a group for the first time since March.

The under-18 BC Premier Baseball League squad hit the field – in a group of 10 players and two coaches, as per the sport’s new COVID-19 protocol – on Tuesday evening, running through some drills and attempting to get back into playing shape after three months relaying on solo, at-home workouts and regular video coaches with coaches and teammates.

“The guys are excited – they just want to get out and see some friends again,” Tritons head coach Kyle Dhanani told Peace Arch News Tuesday morning, prior to the return to action.

“Some of these guys didn’t go back to school, so they haven’t really seen people in months. It’ll be good to just hang out, throw some (verbal) jabs at each other – it’s just good for team camaraderie.”

In addition to the limits on the numbers of players and coaches that can be on the field at once, other Baseball BC return-to-play rules include no shared equipment; no sharing of water bottles or food; no spitting and increased disinfection of equipment. As well, on-field meetings and handshakes and high-five are also off the table.

In minor baseball’s lower age divisions, some players are starting to return to the field, as well.

A few dozen Cloverdale Minor Baseball Association players have returned to practice, association president Mike Dance told Black Press Media earlier this week.

“We’re hoping to expand on those numbers as we move forward, but because the spring season had run its course and had to be cancelled, we’re going to open registration for some more divisions and hopefully more players will want to come out,” Dance said, adding that the association will focus on practice and skill development rather than games.

The BCPBL has scrapped its season, and teams that do return to action will focus strictly on training; with on-field players limited to 10 or less, games would be impossible, even if there was enough time for a truncated schedule.

Dhanani hoped that, if B.C. continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve and provincial authorities announce plans to move to Phase 3 or beyond of a restart plan, teams could perhaps practice in larger groups later in the summer, and perhaps – if things go well – even play some type of modified game, either with fewer players, less innings or both.

“Maybe by later in the July or August we can do that, and then by September we could have a close-to-normal fall ball season… but it’s all wait-and-see,” he said.

“For now, we’re just trying to use this time to prepare for the next season. We have some guys who haven’t played on this bigger (PBL) field, so we’ll get them ready and used to that (before next spring).”

• READ ALSO: ‘The spirit’s back’ at Surrey parks as soccer and baseball players return to practice

Though the Tritons – the U18s, the U16 juniors and the U15 bantams – have been training alone for months and the pandemic wiped out the entire season, Dhanani said they consider themselves lucky, because they’re one of the few ball clubs to have at least played a few competitive games this season.

Back in March – just before the pandemic shut down travel and resulted in shelter-at-home restrictions – a contingent of White Rock players and coaches travelled to Tucson, Ariz. for spring training and exhibition games against U.S. competition. Though the trip was ultimately cut a little short, they still managed to see some on-field action.

However, the coach admits getting a taste of it made it even tougher to deal with when sports were cancelled.

“We’re the lucky ones because at least we got to go play, but it did almost make it worse because we had the chance and then had it taken away,” Dhanani said. “We’re grateful though, because we got some good memories.”

Moving forward, Dhanani said the team would likely hold evening training sessions four times per week, though he stressed that they’re not mandatory, and he also expects his players to be at different stages of fitness as they return.

“Some of the kids have done a lot of work in the last few months, and some haven’t really don’t anything so they might be hurting a little bit (during the restart) and have to start slow,” he said.

“And some parents are probably going to be a little cautious, so maybe some (players) won’t come every night, and that’s OK. We’re not going to pressure anybody. We’re just saying, ‘This is what we’re offering, and here we are.’”

– with files from Tom Zillich



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC Premier Baseball LeagueWhite Rock Tritons

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta artist John Horton named to Order of British Columbia

Honour for significant contributions made to the appreciation and safety of B.C.’s coastal history

Former White Rock mayor, MP shares community connections via YouTube

Gordie Hogg aims to highlight those who’ve impacted South Surrey, White Rock

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society doing ‘better than we were expecting’ amid COVID-19

At one point, the board thought it might have a donation shortfall of $250,000

Man arrested in ‘after-hours club crackdown’ in Whalley, Surrey RCMP say

Police say they received information about clubs, parties ‘springing up’ at commercial properties

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read