Players hit, run, throw — and spit.
They spit when they are in the outfield. They spit when they are in the dugout. They might step out of the batter’s box or off the pitching rubber between pitches and spit. It’s part of the game.
“Yeah,” Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said, “that’s kind of normal for us to spit.”
But Major League Baseball is not allowing spitting this season. It has ordered the removal of items from the dugout, like sunflower seeds, to help reduce the chances that a player will have reason to spit. But challenges remain. Players will often grab water or Gatorade in the dugout, drink a little then spit the rest out.
Water and Gatorade remain in the dugout, but in individual containers.
“I guess we have to get used to not doing that,” Cruz said. “We don’t have gum. We don’t have sunflower seeds, so that will help us. We gotta keep the stadium clean so we can’t be throwing garbage in there.”
Second baseman Luis Arraez, who plans to play with a mask on, said it won’t be a big adjustment for him because he doesn’t spit much. But it’s been a challenge for the players who have spit for so long they don’t realize they are doing it.
“Yeah, I think I broke that rule today a couple times,” righthander Tyler Duffey said Friday. “I almost need to like wear a mask in an outing, just to make it not happen. It’s one of things I have to be cognizant of, and remind myself constantly.
“I’ve been good. I haven’t licked my fingers. I do that. So that’s a big step for me at this point. I remembered my rosin bag today so that was another big step. So we’re getting there. We’ve got a couple more games to pitch in, and then hopefully I’ll have it all ironed out.”
Arraez, who left Friday’s intrasquad game because of right knee tendinitis, returned to action Sunday and has every intention of being in the lineup Friday when the Twins face the White Sox in Chicago.
“One hundred percent,” he said.
First baseman Miguel Sano, who missed the beginning of camp with the coronavirus, played in his first game Sunday. And he looked a little rusty, striking out in two of his three plate appearances while drawing a walk in the other.
“Right now I consider this practice to get ready,” Sano said. “Right now I’m not 100 percent, but Opening Day is going to feel different and we’ll be ready for it.”