Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, left, is among players who have tested positive for COVID-19. Workouts begin for all major league teams later this week. Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

They figured it out. Major League Baseball and its players association came down to the wire, bickering about money every step of the way, but finally came to a point in their negotiations where a 60-game schedule could be announced.

Players will be reporting in the coming days, with workouts commencing by the weekend.

Now comes the hard part. Now, they need to figure out how to play baseball as the coronavirus outbreak surges in much of the country.

So much is changing, and so quickly. Not long ago we thought teams would report to facilities in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training 2.0, sites with more fields and equipment than teams’ regular-season homes up north.

That was before both of those states became pandemic hot spots as society reopened and the virus spread unchecked. In fact, its been less than two weeks since the Red Sox announced they would hold their “summer camp” at Fenway Park and not Fort Myers, Florida.

Fenway might be America’s Most Beloved Park, but it’s not built for some 50 players to hold camp. There’s one diamond, and one weight room. As with most structures built in the early 1900s, ventilation was not a priority in construction.

The Red Sox will have to adapt, and they will. Last week Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said the team plans to use McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket as home for some players. The Sox were still ironing out details after announcing an initial 47-man player pool on Sunday.

In the meantime, the country has seen its highest infection totals in recent days. Not ideal for baseball — or any sport trying to resume.

Professional golfers and tennis players have tested positive, dampening the enthusiasm surrounding the returns of those sports. Needless to say, the challenges facing team sports are even greater.

The NBA will resume its season at the end of July in Florida, where infection rates have soared. The NHL is inching towards the next phase of its return. Both leagues have great plans and safety protocols in place, but so did cities and states that reopened in recent weeks.

Baseball faces an even more daunting task. Unlike basketball and hockey, baseball will not be played in “bubble” cities. Teams will travel to and fro, spending time on planes and buses and visiting airports and hotels. The league is doing its best to limit exposure, but there is only so much you can do in public places.

The Phillies have already dealt with an outbreak — and that was before players reported to camp. They were one of four MLB spring training sites that reported positive tests for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. The Rockies had players test positive, including All-Star Charlie Blackmon.

A coach from one major league team told me last week he had serious concerns about how this will play out, saying he was concerned that he’d be more worried about safety than about winning when all of this began.

So why do this at all?

Because, if they can pull it off, baseball would give us exactly the type of distraction we all desperately need after months of social isolation. And the medical experts advising baseball believe it can be done if players and teams pay close attention to the details in a safety protocol manual that is more than 100 pages long. They’ve thought of almost everything, and have laid out a playbook that should make the sport as safe as possible to play.

We will soon find out if that’s safe enough. One thing is for sure: dealing with economic concerns was difficult, but nowhere near as unpredictable as dealing with a virus that has regained its foothold in the country.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.


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