Play ball! Fenway Park preparing to welcome Red Sox fans back for Opening Day

BOSTON (WHDH) - Fenway Park is preparing to welcome Red Sox fans back for in-person spectating on Thursday for the first time in more than 500 days.

When the Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles for Opening Day, only about 4,500 fans will be allowed in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions that limit capacity at arenas and stadiums in Massachusetts.

All tickets sold for the game, which will mark the first played in front of fans since Sept. 29, 2019, will fall under “pod seating” with bundles of either two or four seats. The team says the pods will allow fans to enjoy games while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The tickets have also been made digital to make for a contactless experience.

Seats that are not in use will be blocked off with zip ties.

Face coverings are required at all times unless fans are eating or drinking. Hand sanitizer will also be made available throughout the park. Fans must also complete a health survey prior to entering the game.

A hundred healthcare workers will be among those in attendance for Opening Day.

The Red Sox say they will be distributing 10,000 tickets to healthcare workers throughout the season.

Players say they are optimistic for this season following last year’s last place finish in the American League East.

“You have the doubters out there, they can say what they want, but with us seeing the rotation we have, the guys that we have, our bullpen, it’s going to be a fun year for us,” pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said. “We’re coming in confident.”

Player Kike Hernandez added, “Just looking around at the talent we have in this room, if we’re able to stay healthy and everybody puts a little piece of the puzzle, I think we’re going to be alright. So really optimistic. Really excited to be here.”

The opening pitch is slated to be thrown at 2:10 p.m.

(Copyright (c) 2021 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)