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At last, the Mariners will return: MLB sets a 60-game season to begin in July

J.P. Crawford and the Mariners will begin a training camp on July 1. (AP)

Baseball is back.

MLB training camps will open July 1 with players required to go through a three-day COVID-19 testing period before they are allowed on site. If baseball can get through spring training in a pandemic unscathed, the season will begin July 23 or 24.

The Mariners have had plans in the works for some time now to train in Seattle at T-Mobile Park. At the time of the shutdown their spring training roster was down to 43 players, but more will be added as teams are expected to have a player pool to draw from in the regular season. A taxi squad, which will work out at an offsite location, will be available to fill needs as they arise. To ensure teams have enough pitching to start the season, opening day rosters will be set at 30. After 15 days, teams will have to trim their rosters to 28, and after 29 days they will have to be down to 26.

Agreeing to health and safety protocols was the last obstacle for the MLB and MLB Players Association to overcome before getting back out on the field. With over 40 players and staff members testing positive for COVID-19 in the last week, let’s hope that was a wake-up call to what it will take to keep them on the field. As covered earlier, this is not a harmonious return to play, but baseball will be back and both sides will need to work together to keep everyone safe and the game going through the full 60-game schedule.

In the coming days we should hear more about the particulars – what the health and safety protocols entail, who will opt out, what happens when players or staff test positive and what the schedule looks like. The Mariners will play teams from the west, reportedly 40 games against AL West division members and then 20 split between the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks and Rockies.

We will re-familiarize ourselves with the Mariners themselves.

Quick, who’s on first? Well that would be Evan White, jumping from Double-A to the bigs. Remember when that was a story?

How about the pitching? Did you know Kendall Graveman is a Mariner? Remember, Taijuan Walker is back. Both are coming off Tommy John surgery and had fantastic final spring training starts, as did Justus Sheffield. Yusei Kikuchi has not stopped working while in Arizona and man, did he look different in Peoria.

How about that double play combo, Shed Long and J.P. Crawford? Still much to be learned about them.

And the outfielders – how does Kyle Lewis follow up his start last September? And with top prospect Jarred Kelenic most likely to be on the taxi squad, will we see him?

There is no denying the last month has been extremely painful and that the outlook for labor peace between the MLB and MLBPA moving forward is grim. But for now, although it will look and sound very different, rather than an 18-month absence we are left with actual baseball. Let’s make the most of it.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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