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CINCINNATI — Opening Day for Major League Baseball is finally right around the corner. Teams will begin playing a 60-game schedule on July 23.

The shortened schedule comes as many were skeptical an MLB season would even be played. The treacherous months leading up to the amended schedule have taught Cincinnati Reds catcher and Brownsburg-native Tucker Barnhart not to take his time in professional baseball for granted.

“Not that you take it for granted, but there are times in a 162-game season where you feel like the day is a blur and you just move on to the next game,” he told JMV on 107.5 The Fan. “But now it hasn’t felt like that whatsoever and I don’t anticipate it feeling like that at all.”

Teams have been playing exhibition and warm-up inter-team games in the last week to get acclimated to the rules put in place by MLB in order to keep players safe during the pandemic.

Barnhart said he has had to get used to the new rules but that they are coming naturally to him. Players are required to wear masks when at all possible, some players are even choosing to wear masks while they are on the field, though they are not required to do so.

They are required to wear masks in the dugout, weight room, and clubhouse.

Barnhart said he does miss sunflower seeds, which MLB says players are not allowed to chew on in the dugout. It’s a widely known fact many players in baseball chew on sunflower seeds and spit out the seeds on to the ground.

“I’m dying for some sunflower seeds,” Barnhart jokingly said. “I’m a sunflower seed chewer and we don’t have any inside the stadium! Not a one. So, I’d have to bring in myself and try to half to sneak them somewhere.”

Some teams are also piping in crowd noise over their ballpark’s PA system in an effort to try and make games without fans are realistic as possible. Barnhart said the fake crowd noise has gotten mixed reactions from players.

“You don’t really notice it if you are playing,” he said. “It’s just more if you’re sitting in the dugout and it’s just this constant noise that is just so fake. Because there are times there is no noise during a regular game. It’s just really weird. Joey Votto hates it!”

The MLB regular season begins on Thursday with the New York Yankees facing the Washington Nationals in D.C. The Cincinnati Reds open their season the next day against the Detroit Tigers.