Baseball is back for San Diego kids, with restrictions

Posted at 2:32 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 21:24:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Father of three boys, Ben Walrath, was excited when he heard baseball practice was starting up again.

"There's only so much Fortnite they can play," Walrath said, his son Austin, 10, chiming in, "before I get bored." "Before we have to do something different," Walrath continued.

He had a talk with his boys about how practice is going to be different to protect them from coronavirus.

When quizzed, his sons answered correctly, "no dugout during practice," Austin said. "Stay six feet away." Walrath reminded them, "we're not going to be doing high fives and stuff like that... and no games right away."

While Austin wasn't enthused about the new protocol, he was excited to see his friends for the first time in months at practice Monday.

President of Sweetwater Valley Little League Arturo Maldonado said they are rolling out practice in three phases.

Monday was the beginning of phase one with kids ages 10-15. This weekend phase two will start for kids ages 7-10 and as soon as June 26 the youngest ball players ages 4-7 will get to come back to practice.

"Everybody's learning how things are going to be done out in the field and that's why we're doing it in three different phases so that we can make adjustments," Maldonado said.

He said managers and coaches will be wearing masks, but the kids don't have to. He said the kids will be encouraged to socially distance.

There won't be any hugging, high-fives, or sunflower seeds and hand sanitizer is always close by. The dugout will be expanded to the stands, Maldonado said, to accommodate for social distancing.

Parents aren't allowed at practice yet and sick players are encouraged to stay home.

Monday Walrath said the boys played wiffleball, just as they would any other day.

"We're not going to change the game of baseball. We're changing how we're watching the game of baseball," Maldonado said.

Walrath said safety is a priority for every family.

"There's always health concerns in sports, whether that's normal injury concerns. Coronavirus adds a new twist to health concerns and just like with anything else I think this is a personal risk decision for each and every one of our families," Walrath said.

Sweetwater Valley Little League has a history of big wins, making it to the Little League World Series in 2015, and Regionals in 2019.

Families hope to get their kids some social interaction after months of staying at home and keep them safe.