Canaries players return to Sioux Falls and isolate to play 2020 season

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The sounds are the same.

Everything around them is much different for the 2020 Canaries.

"They take our temperature when we come in, stuff like that." Canaries Pitcher/Bench Coach Tyler Herron says.

"We're all in masks walking into the clubhouse and walking around the clubhouse." Canaries Pitcher Kevin Folman says.

"Hand sanitizer before and after. You got to put gloves on to make a sandwich. Just try not to basically clump up (as a group)." Canaries Outfielder Logan Landon says.

Which also included doing interviews over Zoom as the Canaries take measures to isolate themselves on and off the field during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Yeah we don't do much, it's kind of boring actually when we're not at the field. I feel like if somebody does get the virus that it will give a chance that our whole team can get it and then, obviously, other people in the league, and that will be all she wrote for this year. So we're really stressing to our guys to stay inside." Herron says.

An unintentional result of that should be bringing the team closer together, especially when many players like Kevin Folman originally started their seasons with other organizations.

"I went to spring training with the Chicago White Sox and then the whole country flipped upside down. We're not going to be able to go out on a Saturday night so we're just going to have to get to know our teammates and our roommates pretty well. And I think that team bonding aspect is going to be at an all-time high." Folman says.

And this team will probably stay intact through the bulk of their 60-game schedule since there likely won't be any affiliated minor league teams to sign them.

"You never know who's going to be in the stands and there's more heightened risk at this point. You got to be pitching well and you've got to be playing well if you want to get to affiliated ball." Folman says.

Though the reality that they'll be a part of one of the nation's only active professional baseball leagues keeps the Canaries' big league dreams alive.

"Do you want to pluck a guy off his cough and throw him in a Major League game? Or do you want to take the chance of taking a guy who has been playing well in a high level league and see what you got there?" Landon says.

As will getting a break from their baseball quarantine to play in front of up to 2200 fans at a socially distanced Sioux Falls Stadium.

"Really awesome that we're going to be able to have fans and it's going to be good for them too." Herron says.

"Getting out with some fresh air, getting a good atmosphere going and play some baseball. Make the fans proud." Landon says.

The Canaries open the season on Friday, July 3rd as the "home" team against the club they're sharing the Birdcage with, the St. Paul Saints, at 7:05 PM. Sioux Falls is one of two hub cities in the American Association hosting two teams. Fargo/Moorhead is sharing their facility with Winnipeg. Milwaukee was set to share their park with Chicago until they announced that they would be able to play their games at Impact Field in Rosemont, Illinois.

The Saints are currently training in St. Paul before coming to Sioux Falls next week. They hope to be able to play games at their home field in the Twin Cities, CHS Park, when allowed to by local and state health officials.