Chicago baseball will be in full swing Friday as both the North Side and South Side baseball teams kick off their home openers, but things will be different this year as the start of the season comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both teams will play a three-game series in Chicago with games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Cubs will take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field and the White Sox will face the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. Both are set to begin at 6:10 p.m. Friday.
Unlike typical home openers, there will be no street closures in Chicago for the games as fans aren't allowed inside stadiums. Rooftops surrounding Wrigley Field will be limited to 25% capacity and Gallagher Way outside the ballpark will be closed.
Bars surrounding both stadiums will no longer be allowed to serve patrons indoors as the city heightened certain restrictions Friday in an attempt to slow a rising number of coronavirus cases. Restaurants will also be forced to limit table capacity to six people.
And it won't just be baseball taking center stage during Friday's home openers.
Before the Cubs take the field, the team is set to hold a pre-game moment of silence "and solidarity recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement."
Young gospel singer Keedron Bryant's original song "I Just Wanna Live" will also ring from the Wrigley Rooftops as the viral sensation sings about being a young Black man in today’s world.
The team also plans to honor healthcare heroes fighting during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing Dr. Hillary Ecker, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Health Care, to sing the national anthem.
Healthcare workers from Advocate Health Care, alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, will also be featured in a virtual first pitch compilation video, which will culminate in Ryne Sandberg throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field.
Two new blue flags will be added to the exterior of Wrigley Field as an additional tribute to the healthcare heroes, the team said.
The White Sox also announced Thursday the team will share visuals to support the fight against racial injustice, violence and inequality, NBC Sports Chicago reported.
The report also notes some Chicago players plan to wear Black Lives Matter-themed shirts during batting practice or uniform patches that read "Black Lives Matter" or "United for Change" when the season opens. Similar messages may also be worn on wristbands or cleats.
"We've had multiple meetings on racial injustice, and we've got a plan in place for Opening Day that these guys are unified with," Cubs manager David Ross reportedly said Wednesday. "It really has been some great discussions and great conversations, learning a lot about things that we don't see or what other people may be going through.
Lucas Giolito will also be one of those players when he starts the White Sox season-opener on the South Side, according to NBC Sports Chicago. And he said he won't be alone.
"You can expect tomorrow for players to express themselves supporting organizations, issues, continuing to raise that awareness around the country," he reportedly said.