Spring games begin with fans, new faces, moment for Mancini

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St. Louis Cardinals' Nolan Arenado prepares to bat during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Nolan Arenado in his new Cardinal red, Mookie Betts back in Dodger blue. October breakout star Randy Arozarena with a hit in his first February at-bat, Buster Posey returning from an opt-out year.

And a socially distanced standing ovation for Trey Mancini.

All over spring training, baseball enjoyed a bevy of reassuring signs Sunday on the opening day of Grapefruit and Cactus league play.

Including people in the seats, albeit in numbers limited by COVID-19 protocols.

The Toronto-Yankees game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, drew 2,637, close to its permitted maximum of 2,800 in a park that holds over 10,000. A little farther south in Sarasota, the Pittsburgh-Baltimore opener crowd of 1,705 was officially listed as a sellout.

“I’m glad we got some of the fans back,” Yankees slugger Luke Voit said.

Many top names were in play, too.

World Series MVP Corey Seager drove in the first run for Los Angeles, 22-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. played for the first time since signing his $330 million, 14-year contract, and All-Stars DJ LeMahieu, José Altuve and Joey Votto took swings.