Grab your peanuts and cracker jacks: America’s pastime is back.
And although no one will be “taken out to the crowd” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB teams are still sending their best to the diamond for a shortened 60-game season—a group that boasts more UF representation than any college school. The MLB has received a minor hiccup this week, however, as at least 17 individuals in the Miami Marlins organization, including players and coaches, tested positive for COVID-19. While Miami’s game against Baltimore and Philadelphia’s game against the New York Yankees on Monday and Tuesday were postponed, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday he does not, “put this in the nightmare category.”
With the season continuing on, UF is well represented. And while many are veterans who have seen their fair share of MLB action, some Gators are making their first appearance in the bigs.
One of the more notable rookies is former Florida pitcher Brady Singer, who made his debut with the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. Singer, the former First Team All-American and winner of the Dick Howser Trophy (given annually to college baseball’s best player), pitched five innings and gave up three hits and two earned runs. He struck out seven, however, and finds himself in the major leagues after just one season in the minors.
New York Mets First baseman Pete Alonso, last year’s Home Run Derby Champion and NL Rookie of the Year, has struggled so far. In his 11 at-bats since the beginning of the season, he’s only managed one hit and has struck out five times. He’s only played in three games, but Alonso will certainly look to improve his .091 batting average as the season progresses.
Veterans who were former Gators made their mark on the league as well. St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader, who left Florida in 2014, has yet to get a hit in five at-bats but has scored two runs and stolen a base. Darren O’Day pitched an inning in his Braves debut where he struck out two batters. Former UF pitcher Shaun Anderson, who made his MLB debut last year with the San Francisco Giants, has pitched two innings and struck out five batters.
Two Florida players who were set to play this season suffered injuries that will keep them sidelined. Baltimore Orioles shortstop Richie Martin, who batted .208 last year, had surgery on his wrist that will sideline him for the 2020 season. Oakland A’s pitcher A.J Puk will likely see action this year, but he was placed on the Injured List with shoulder inflammation, and his 2020 debut is likely to be far off, according to A’s manager Bob Melvin.
Follow River on Twitter @riverhwells. Contact him at [email protected]