MIAMI, April 1 (UPI) -- Each of MLB's 30 teams will allow fans to attend their games as the league launches a new season with increased optimism for baseball around the United States.
Despite the stark contrast from last year's fan-less regular-season experience, COVID-19 caveats still will impact the 2021 campaign.
The Texas Rangers are the only MLB team that plans to allow full capacity at their stadium to open the season. All other teams will start with limited seating, but plan to increase attendance later in the year.
Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, holds about 40,500 fans. But the Rangers start the season with a road series against the Kansas City Royals.
The Toronto Blue Jays will hold home games at their 8,500-seat spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., due to the Canadian government's COVID-19 restrictions. Only 1,275 fans will be allowed to attend, the smallest maximum in MLB.
The New York Yankees host the Blue Jays in the first MLB game of the season at 1:05 p.m. EDT Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
About 10,800 fans will be allowed to attend the game. To get in, they must show a negative result for a PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test or provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
"It's been a long time since the people of New York have been able to get to a baseball game," Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole told reporters Saturday.
"I'm looking forward to my family being there. Hopefully we come out crisp, play a nice game and set the tone for the season."
Opening Day continues with a 1:10 p.m. EDT first pitch when the Detroit Tigers host the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Saturday's slate continues with several games getting underway through a 7:09 p.m. EDT start.
The Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners will start games after 10 p.m. EDT.
The Yankees-Blue Jays opener also will be the first of four games to air Thursday on ESPN.
The Colorado Rockies then host the Los Angeles Dodgers at 4:10 p.m. EDT on ESPN. The network then airs the New York Mets at Washington Nationals at 7:09 p.m. EDT. ESPN's nightcap features the Houston Astros at the Oakland Athletics at 10:07 p.m. EDT.
All other games air on local TV and radio stations or can be streamed on MLB.com.
The Dodgers, Yankees, White Sox, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and Mets are among the betting favorites to win the World Series.
Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Jack Flaherty, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke will be among the top ace pitchers on the mound Thursday.
"The real goal for everybody is to go win the World Series," deGrom told reporters Tuesday. "That starts Thursday. That's the mission. That's what we are all pulling for."
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, Nationals first baseman Josh Bell, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado and Blue Jays outfielder George Springer will be among the players who make debuts Thursday for new teams.
Each team continues its standard, 162-game regular season schedule through the weekend. Like the 2020 season, the 2021 campaign requires COVID-19 testing, regular temperature checks and symptom screenings, but COVID-19 protocols will be relaxed slightly for the growing list of vaccinated personnel.
MLB announced Friday that a total of 33 positive tests (25 players and eight staff members) have emerged out of 78,227 COVID-19 tests conducted since the start of intake screening in mid-February.
Opening Day schedule
Blue Jays at Yankees at 1:05 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Indians at Tigers at 1:10 p.m. EDT on SportsTime Ohio/Fox Sports Detroit
Orioles at Red Sox at 2:10 p.m. EDT on MASN/NESN
Twins at Brewers at 2:10 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports North/Fox Sports Wisconsin
Pirates at Cubs at 2:20 p.m. EDT on ATT SportsNet Pittsburgh/Marquee Sports Network
Braves at Phillies at 3:05 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports South/NBC 10
Rays at Marlins at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Bally Sports Sun/Bally Sports Florida
Cardinals at Reds at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports Midwest/Fox Sports Ohio
Dodgers at Rockies at 4:10 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Diamondbacks at Padres at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports Arizona/Fox Sports San Diego
Rangers at Royals at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports Southwest/Fox Sports Kansas City
Mets at Nationals at 7:09 p.m. EDT on ESPN
White Sox at Angels at 10:05 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Chicago+/Fox Sports West
Astros at Athletics at 10:07 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Giants at Mariners at 10:10 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Bay Area/Root Sports Northwest