(AP)- Pitchers and catchers around baseball reported to spring training Wednesday appreciating what’s at stake as they try to follow COVID-19 protocols to make sure the season runs with minimal interruptions.

In Jupiter, Florida several Cardinals position players arrived early, ahead of Monday's first full squad workout.  The early arrivals included the newly-acquired Nolan Arenado, the multiple-time All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman St. Louis traded for two weeks ago.

"He's very good offensively, he's very good defensively," said Cardinals Manager Mike Schildt.  "In addition to that he's super excited, obviously, and deservedly so.  I understand St. Louis has a lot of warm and fuzzy even in the cold temperatures right now for a lot of reasons, including Nolan."

Players must follow even tougher restrictions than they dealt with during the abbreviated 2020 season.  At Royals Camp in Suprise, Arizona players went through physicals and got acclimated to large tents outside the clubhouse where they will do much of their work to accommodate distancing.

Kansas City hopes to challenge for the AL Central championship this season with a re-worked lineup that includes former Red Sox star Andrew Benintendi, who the team traded for last week.  With a pitching staff that includes a balance of young arms and veteran leaders, Manager Mike Matheny likes his chances.

"I Just watched 22 bullpens a minute ago and the stuff that we're seeing on those mounds, it's advanced, even for some of the young guys," said Matheny.  "You put that in place in line with some of the things we watched our guys improve to do last year. My favorite line right now is it's a great time to be a Royal."

MLB is hoping to have a full, 162-game season after playing a 60-game schedule last year that included no fans in the stands until the postseason. 

The Cardinals host their spring training in Jupiter, Florida. For a look at the Cardinals 2021 schedule, click here.

The Royals host their spring training in Surprise, Arizona. For a look at the Royals 2021 schedule, click here.

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