“They all look right, because of the depth we have,” Rojas said. “When we were on the break, I had plenty of time to think about lineups.”
His opening lineup included Yoenis Cespedes at designated hitter, the first appearance for Cespedes in more than two years. The Braves used a Mets castoff, Matt Adams, at D.H. Their options were depleted by the loss of Nick Markakis, who opted out of the season, and the scuttled free-agent deal for Yasiel Puig, who tested positive for the virus.
Both teams have pitching troubles not related to Covid-19. Atlanta’s Cole Hamels is on the 45-day injured list with a triceps issue, and the Mets’ Marcus Stroman sustained a torn left calf muscle last Friday when a line drive struck it in an intrasquad game.
“I got hit with a rocket in my leg,” Stroman said. “My leg was literally blown up. Massive.”
Even so, he said he was not worried, and vowed to heal quickly. There is no time to waste in a 60-game season, and while those cardboard cutouts are well-behaved, the human fans are more demanding. They have reason to expect a postseason berth.
Whatever happens, simply making it to October would be a victory for everyone in the game, considering the challenge and uncertainty of playing in 30 stadiums — including the Class AAA field in Buffalo for the exiled Toronto Blue Jays — during a pandemic.
Baseball reported hopeful data on Friday, announcing that it had conducted 10,939 tests for Covid-19 in the last week, and only six had come back positive (four players and two staff members). So while the specter lingers, those facts are encouraging. The odds of pulling this off might be better than a coin flip, after all.
Tails you win, heads you win more. Best not to think about any other outcome.