No doubt, things were different in Bradenton, Mesa and every other Grapefruit and Cactus league park because of virus protocols. Yankees star Aaron Judge still tossed balls into the socially distanced crowd, but the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper had to steer clear of close contact.
Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Ben Bowden had a young fan approach him for an autograph. The left-hander had to tell him, sorry, they weren’t allowed to. It was hard to tell who felt worse.
“I do miss going up and seeing the little guys and the little girls and signing balls for them and taking pictures,” Bowden said.
But the good news: Come next spring, hopefully, some new rookie will light up the radar gun with 100 mph heaters. Tigers fans at Joker Marchant Stadium will laugh when the PA announcer says it’s 85 degrees in Lakeland and 19 back in Detroit. And kids will chase homers hit by No. 97, having no idea who he is and not caring, either.