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WCBL season up in the air amid COVID-19; Giants preparing to play this summer if allowed

PHOTO. The Fort McMurray Giants finished the 2019 season with a franchise-best 28 wins. Owner and president Dutche Iannetti looks forward to the team playing championship-calibre baseball in 2020. Supplied by the Fort McMurray Giants/Dan Lines Photography.

The Fort McMurray Giants are preparing for another summer of baseball but this summer’s preparation is a little different than years past with a lot of question marks swirling around on if the season will even be played.

The Western Canadian Baseball League held a board of governors meeting with all ten teams over the weekend to discuss potential scenarios the league may be forced into for its 2020 season.

“We want to start our season on time on the schedule that was laid out in October but we know and realize that will be up to the health authorities and the provincial and federal governments.” said Giants President and Owner Dutche Iannetti. “Our vision is to start on our start date but we realize that might not be possible so we had to put forward a couple more potential dates when the season could get underway.”

The Giants season opener is scheduled for May 28th at home at Legacy Dodge Field at Shell Place against the Lethbridge Bulls. All ten WCBL teams have a 56 game schedule that will run from late May into early August with playoffs wrapping up by the middle of the month.

In the meeting, the WCBL came to an agreement that for the full season to be played, they would need the go ahead by May 2nd. Potential shortened seasons would start on Father’s Day June 21st or Canada Day July 1st. A decision was made to cancel the season if by early June there are still health and travel restrictions.

“It all depends on the border crossings and borders being open and our government. We know we can’t do anything until we get the okay because there’s a lot of restrictions and there should be because the most important thing is everybody’s health right now,” said Iannetti.

One of the big questions if the league is allowed to play is will American players be allowed to cross the border to play?

“Our roster right now is full with American and Canadian players but we have been looking at recruiting more Canadian players and so have the rest of the teams in our league so it could be an all Canadian league this year if we’re able to play of course,” said Iannetti. The 2019 Giants were nearly a 50/50 split with 11 Canadians and 14 Americans.

The players right now are also trying to find ways to train and stay in shape for when baseball does resume. All college leagues in the USA and Canada have shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic with all gyms and facilities available to players also closing.

“A lot of these players have their own routines that they can do at home or in their garage so they can keep in shape but we understand that there could be restrictions especially on pitching because they’re not throwing right now so we have plans to manage their arms until they’re ready and they know their bodies so they’ll let you know when they’re ready,” said Iannetti.

The WCBL has said another update will be issued on April 20th.