Major League Baseball is expected to begin its season in just a few weeks, with the Washington Nationals reportedly hosting the New York Yankees on Opening Day of the league's shortened 60-game season.
However, with rising coronavirus case numbers across the United States, there have been concerns whether the MLB -- as well as the NBA, NHL and other professional leagues -- can begin/resume their seasons in July.
Nationals' infielder Eric Thames was asked whether he thinks baseball can conduct its full 60-game slate despite the pandemic, and the 33-year-old gave an encouraging answer for all sports fans.
"The MLB has a strong safety protocol so we're all going to follow that. Baseball can work," Thames said to ABC7's Scott Abraham. "We all need it, as players, the fans and the world. It definitely needs something to watch right now. So, we're chomping at the bit."
EXCLUSIVE - "This has been like our first summer vacation since high school"— Scott Abraham (@ScottABC7) July 1, 2020
Great catching up with @EricThames outside Nats Park today.
He is ready to get back to work.
More tonight on @ABC7News pic.twitter.com/AAc0MniUxv
Thames arrived at Nats Park on Wednesday to get tested for COVID-19, as every MLB player is required to do upon reporting to their respective team sites. Once the results come back, those who test negative will be allowed to participate in workouts at team facilities.
"We're all getting tested to make sure we're all clean," he said. "Then on Thursday or Friday, we start working out again and start getting after it."
Asked about how he's been handling the past few unusual months between the pandemic and ongoing labor arguments between the MLB and the MLBPA, Thames said it's been difficult waking up every day not knowing what's going to happen next.
"It just feels crazy to tell you the truth," Thames said. "We were at home going 'Are we going to play this year? Are we not? Is it summer vacation? What's going to happen?'"
Yet, Thames found a way to make light of the situation. The slugger joked that the past few months were the first summer vacation he's had in nearly 15 years.
"It's my first summer vacation since high school," Thames said. We're just doing out best to keep busy, keep working out and enjoy our families."
When baseball does return, stadiums will be empty as fans are not permitted to attend games. Thames admitted that playing in front of an empty stadium will be weird, saying he hopes they pump in fake crowd noise to make the atmosphere sound a little more normal.
The infielder concluded his interview with a message to fans, urging them to stay safe and follow the proper guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.
"Stay inside and mask up," he said. "The quicker this thing can go away, the faster fans can be back in the stadium and things go back to normal."
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