A year ago, the coronavirus reared its head in the first week of March, and within days, Major League Baseball, following action taken by both the NBA and NHL, decided to shutter its spring training camps. It was another three months before teams congregated again, gathering in late June to begin a compressed regular-season schedule in late July.
Last spring, before things raged out of control, MLB shut down clubhouse access and cautioned reporters to social distance themselves from players, managers and coaches.
This year, baseball has begun under far different circumstances. Strict protocols are in place and there are all sorts of precautions in place. Infection rates are down and vaccinations are up, but still, MLB is far from out of the woods.
In Fort Myers, the Red Sox are adjusting -- like 29 other teams. Instead of the players in camp congregating in one clubhouse, they're spread out across the complex. Some are using the minor league clubhouse, some are dressing in a room that once served as the cafeteria and still others are in the media work room.
Staff meetings are held outside in the open air, to lessen risk. Video reviews are held in tents. Each day begins with a screening and health check, with temperatures taken and COVID tests administered regularly.
"It hasn't been that hard,'' said Alex Cora on a Zoom call. "It's been as normal as possible. The only difference is, you're doing work with the mask on and if that's the (biggest) obstacle -- well, you know what? Either here or outside JetBlue Park, you have to do it anyway. It's not that bad. It's been smooth. It's been great.''