The Boston Red Sox are working out at Fenway Park and Major League Baseball is hopeful to finally start the season on July 23. With delays in testing and a number of players testing positive, though, there is no guarantee games will be played. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

It happens several times a year during the baseball season. A storm gathers on the horizon, threatening play as a game continues on the field despite looming severe weather.

Baseball games aren’t being played right now — through Monday nearly 1,400 major league games had gone by the wayside during the coronavirus pandemic — but teams are holding “summer camp” practices as the horizon darkens with more positive coronavirus tests.

It hasn’t even been a week since players reported to Spring Training 2.0. Most of us have been thrilled to see batting practice at Fenway Park, a small step towards the new normal we’ve been itching to get to. Part of that new normal is the newest stat athletes and non-athletes worry about daily: the number of COVID-19 cases in a given city or state — and, now, on a given team.

Teams have been careful not to give away private medical information about players testing positive, yet some players have allowed that information to be shared. We know the Boston Red Sox have seen left-handed relievers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor test positive while starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez has been stuck at home after being exposed to someone carrying the disease.

Other teams have had it worse. Much worse. The biggest problem baseball had Monday wasn’t positive tests, it was an inability for some teams to get those results. Four teams had to cancel workouts because they had not received tests in the 48 hours promised by MLB.

The breakdown in protocol was a stunning reminder how difficult it will be to play in these conditions.

Meantime, some players aren’t waiting around to see how it plays out. David Price and Felix Hernandez, a pair of former Cy Young winners, opted not to play this season because of concerns over the virus. Mike Trout, the game’s biggest star, continues to express his concern even while he works out with the Angels.

All of this is happening while we inch towards a revised Opening Day, slated for July 23. There is a feeling among many that if we can get to the starting line there’s a chance that a truncated season could work.

Trouble is there are many who think the season may never get started as the number of positive cases increases.

Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez is hopeful there will be Major League Baseball this summer but knows in 2020 nothing is guaranteed. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

“I want to say I’m confident,” Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez said Sunday, “but the way 2020 has been, you never know what’s going to happen anymore. It’s crazy to think that way, but we’re all definitely going to do our best and stay as healthy as we can.”

Martinez went on to say his “love for the game is going to outweigh my fear.” That seems to be the general consensus among players as they work out at 30 ballparks around the U.S. and in Toronto.

The hope is that the optimism will grow when games begin. The MLB schedule was released Monday night, and it is fair to worry over how many of those games will ever be played.

Things undboutedly will seem a little more normal when games are being played. Even in empty ballparks, the competition will feel like real baseball. We’ve seen it happen in stock car racing, golf and European soccer.

Meanwhile, the storm continues to grow on the horizon. During normal times, storms often head off in another direction, and the game continues unscathed. The grounds crew stands at the ready, but the tarp stays on the field.

Other times the storm arrives and it’s clear there’s not way to play the game in such hazardous conditions.

For now, we wait to see how this storm plays out. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past four months, no one seems to have an accurate forecast about what it will do.

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


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