The fall 2020 baseball season will look a lot different for the Rhode Island Rams as COVID-19 continues to rear its unfortunate head across collegiate athletics. The Atlantic 10 had canceled all intercollegiate competitions but will still allow teams to practice during that time frame.
For Rhody’s baseball team, there is a 24-day segment as to which they can practice during the fall. Once the first required team workout or practice has begun, the Rams have those 24 days to complete their entirety of fall practice. They are also limited to 20 hours per week and three hours a day of practice time.
After finishing the 2020 season winning seven out of their last eight games, including victories over nationally ranked opponents in Central Michigan and Arizona, the usual fall ball season won’t quite be the same.
For Head Coach Raphael Cerrato, practice would typically begin the Monday after the first day of classes.
“It’s a little different this year,” he said. “We aren’t allowed to even start until September 21.”
After that, the Rams will be in the weight room three times a week, along with the on-field practice.
The number of people allowed to practice together at one time has been reduced to groups of five players, per the NCAA’s practice time rules.
“We tried to put guys who live with each other in the same pod, but that started to get difficult when there are different positions in every house,” Cerrato added.
Along with trying to keep those same players that are living together in the same pods, the team will be mainly broken up by position. With the inability to have a complete squad, Cerrato hopes that players will hone-in on their craft positionally through work that will mainly be focused on the skill side of the game.
“We can’t scrimmage, but what we can do is take ground balls and fly balls,” said Cerrato.
Being unable to scrimmage, it will be almost a year in between games when the Rams take the field for their opening series in the second week of February.
The players will be required to wear a face covering while at practice and when interacting with other players. They will also have their own equipment, including baseballs, for each five-player pod. Since it’s difficult to sanitize the baseballs, Cerrato admitted that while players can develop their skills, practicing team defense will be a challenge.
The freshmen that are living on-campus have all been tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival to campus, and the upperclassmen that are living off-campus will be tested before they begin practicing. Cerrato is confident the Rams have a safe system in place even in the event of positive cases.
“There are going to be some positive tests and we’re preparing for that and we’re going to have to work around that,” Cerrato said.
After the initial round of testing, 25 percent of the team will be tested every two weeks. Those testing positive will be subject to a quarantine period, along with their five-player pod and those that they live with on or off-campus.