Baseball is back! Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies players react to MLB's return

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Baseball is back!

The Philadelphia Phillies will report to spring training 2.0 in one week. It's news that baseball fans have been waiting months to hear.

It's also news Phillies players have been waiting for, as well.

On Tuesday night, MLB announced a 60-game shortened season will begin July 23 or 24 at empty ballparks.

A number of Phillies players posted their reaction to social media.

Outfielder Bryce Harper shared a video of him and a plush Phanatic doll on an ATV, with the caption, "Philly. We're finally coming home!"

Shortstop Jean Segura said, "Baseball is back."

Scott Kingery wrote, "Let's get it."

Pitcher Jojo Romero displayed his emotion with a GIF of screaming Minions.

Pitcher Cole Irvin posted, "#phillybound."

And the Phillies tweeted, "Here we go. #RingTheBell."

Phillies fans in Center City have been waiting three months for the return of baseball.

"Definitely ready for baseball. I've been lost without it. I live, breathe and eat baseball," said fan Juliette McCaughrean.

Fans will have to enjoy games at home or in restaurants as Citizens Bank Park and stadiums across the country remain empty. The change won't stop them from supporting the team.

"I love all four sports. I follow them die-hard," said fan Brian O'hearen. "I know people are complaining that 60 games is a short schedule, but for me anything is better than nothing."

Other fans said they're striking out when it comes to finding interesting reruns while still paying extra for sports packages.

"I want to see live sports, but it's got to be safe, but meanwhile they're ripping us off," said fan Jim Lowe.

Some believe live sports shouldn't return until it's safe for fans to attend games as well.

"I feel as though it's wrong, but at the same time I feel as though it's right. Reason for that is we rather go and watch the game like it's any other sport," said fan Jahi Scott.

"Hopefully we'll be back to in the stands next year, but I'll still cheer them on. I always cheer them on, win or lose, I love em," said McCaughrean.

The season will look a tad different than prior ones.

Teams will play each of their four divisional opponents 10 times - for the Phillies that means the National League East of the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and Miami Marlins. The remaining portion of the schedule, 20 games, will be with the opposite league's corresponding geographical division - for the Phillies that means the American League East of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays.

There will be a designated hitter in the National League.

If a game goes into extra innings, each team will begin with a runner on second base.

The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the coronavirus. At least 12 players and staffers on the Phillies have tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced over the past week.

The Phillies closed Spectrum Field, their Clearwater, Florida complex, last week after the first round of positive test results were received.

For the majority of teams, summer training camp will be held at home stadiums. Pitchers and catchers will report first.

The MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach to facilitate a safe return.

Players, coaches, and staff will be tested every other day for COVID-19 during training camp, the regular season, and postseason.

Players are being paid a full prorated portion of their 2020 salary based on games played.


The Associated Press & ESPN contributed to this report.
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