Giants’ 2022 MLB season to start with unusual post-lockdown opening day

When the lockdown was finally lifted on Thursday afternoon, the Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar place.

The organization has long made it clear to MLB that the preference each year is to start the season on the road, allowing for a final weekend at home and a week of momentum before the team debuts in San Francisco. But when the back and forth was finally over and MLB set a date for Opening Day, the Giants found out they would start the season April 8 at Oracle Park against the Miami Marlins. It will be the first home-opening day since 2009.

“We’re going to open well at home, trust me,” team president and CEO Larry Baer said Thursday afternoon. “We’re focused on not missing a single game and that’s where we gratefully ended up.”

The schedule change will allow the Giants to begin rebuilding confidence immediately. Although their ownership group was not at the center of the contentious negotiations, public sentiment overwhelmingly sided with the actors over the organizations. Teams were already struggling to sell their usual number of tickets during a pandemic. On Thursday, Baer referenced that and the ongoing war in Ukraine, while acknowledging that the Giants will have to push new initiatives for fans.

“I feel your pain,” he said. “We understand it’s been incredibly painful. We’re coming out of a pandemic, we’re in the midst of a horrific war that is upsetting on many levels, even if it only consumes it on TV and in the news. We have an obligation, a fiduciary responsibility to our fans, to deliver baseball I couldn’t empathize more with that view, but the good news is that we’ve found a way to do it and do it in a way that young players will have a different and improved structure.

“I’m not saying it’s perfect for players. I’m not saying it’s perfect for owners. But it’s a step forward, I think.”

Baer said the Giants will have “many user-friendly programs” to announce at some point.

“We have to treat our fans with honey and with open arms and with hugs,” he said. “They’ve had a few months of inconvenience, and that’s not how people want to think about baseball.”

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The process of winning back angry fans will be a sprint, as all of this will be. Players will immediately begin reporting to Scottsdale with practices likely to begin over the weekend. The Giants have had much of their Cactus League schedule wiped out, but right now they have to face the San Diego Padres on March 18 and go from there. Baer said the annual Bay Bridge series against the A’s has been cancelled.

This series would have originally taken place before the Giants visited Petco Park for four games and the Milwaukee Brewers for three more. These games will need to be offset by a combination of doubleheaders, rest days, and three extra days added at the end of the MLB season.

It won’t be hard to catch up on games against the Padres, but finding time for a trip to Milwaukee will be tricky. When everything is settled, the Giants could find themselves opening at Oracle Park and ending their season with a trip to the home of defending champions NL Central. But they’ll take any combination of 162 games they can get at this point.

“We’re very grateful (that) the fans are getting a full season and getting a playoff and getting the whole mosaic of baseball, as they say,” Baer said.

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