Baseball is back and it's going to be a lot different, for players and reporters
The locations have changed through the years.
The routines have remained the same.
No matter if Ozzie Guillen was playing shortstop for the White Sox or sitting in the dugout, no matter if Robin Ventura was playing third base or following Guillen as manager, spring training never changed.
Sox pitchers and catchers always reported to camp in Florida or Arizona in mid-February. OK, there was that one year (1995) where the players' strike altered the arrival time, but you could otherwise set your clock to it.
Position players arrived behind the pitchers and catchers a week or so later, and the exhibition schedule soon followed.
This year's spring training was business as usual for the White Sox, Cubs and the other 28 major-league teams.
For reporters, it was the usual green light to roam the sprawling back practice fields with no restrictions, to sidle up to golf carts occupied by front office personnel and field staff and talk anything from baseball to local bistros.
It was always relaxed, a pleasant entry into the long, stressful season that lay ahead.
This spring, the usual norm came to a crashing halt on March 12. That was the day the coronavirus pandemic stopped the game -- and just about everything else -- in its path.
Covering the Sox at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., along with popping in on the Cubs over in Mesa, seems likes eons ago, not just a few months.
That changes on Friday, when the White Sox get back to preparing for the season at Guaranteed Rate Field and the Cubs take the field at Wrigley.
"It's going to be, definitely, different," Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada said. "But I think the key for us is just to stay healthy. We have to understand that."
That's "we," as in everybody, including the media.
We'll be back at "summer" training Friday morning on the South Side, or "The Deuce," as Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton is calling it.
The usual routine is going to be a distant memory.
Reporters have to sign a waiver before entering Guaranteed Rate Field, Wrigley or any other major-league ballpark.
They also have to get symptom and temperature screenings before heading to the press box or lower level seating areas and observing workouts during the new age of COVID-19.
Reporters are required to wear masks, and there is going to be reduced seating in the press box to ensure proper social distancing.
As for interviews, they will be done via Zoom video conference calls. That is expected to be the norm through training camp and during the 60-game season.
As for what we see on the field, check back in Saturday's Daily Herald for details because as of now, I have no idea what it's going to look like.
It sounds like the White Sox will be split into morning and afternoon workout groups, but there is only so much room to maneuver down the field.
It's going to be anything but business as usual, but at least baseball is coming back.
The key, as Moncada mentioned, is keeping everyone healthy.