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Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season

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Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season

It remains to be seen when, or even if, the 2020 MLB season will happen.

Coronavirus continues to leave the season suspended indefinitely, as MLB stadiums remain devoid of all typical spring activities.

One idea that has been thrown out is the league holding a shortened version of the season in a neutral location, like team spring training hubs in Florida and Arizona.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said Friday on KNBR. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

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All of Arizona’s Cactus League spring training stadiums are within the same county (Maricopa), while Florida’s Grapefruit League stadiums stretch all across the expansive state, with some being hundreds of miles apart.

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Baer emphasized that many scenarios have been thrown out around the league, but that the safety of all those involved with the game should take precedent.

“That’s one idea, there are other ideas out there,” Baer said. “I just think we’ve got to chase down every possible idea to return baseball, but only when it’s safe and only when [there is] public health clearance.”

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

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How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]