LAWRENCE, Mass. — The coronavirus outbreak is impacting everyone from the late-night talk show personalities hosting from home, to our favorite athletes whose seasons are suspended. Locally, a Lawrence teen who was recently drafted by the Boston Red Sox has had his dream put on hold because of the outbreak.
In Leon Paulino’s family, baseball is big.
“My whole life my dad just brought me into the game of baseball. It runs in his culture, he’s Dominican,” said Paulino. “He would practice with me every day. I’m a switch hitter. Since I was 5, he would make me swing both sides.”
In the Paulino household, they always cheer for the home team, a team that Paulino hoped to join one day. That dream came true when he was drafted in June 2019.
“Every day I’d always watch the Red Sox play and then to put the jersey on, it’s incredible,” he said.
Fast forward to February. Paulino was ready for his first spring training in Florida.
“The first week coronavirus wasn’t really mentioned that much, we were just practicing, training, having fun with our day.”
But things slowly started to escalate. Handwashing and sanitizing soon became as routine as batting practice and fielding drills.
“As a baseball player, your body needs to be healthy to go out and compete every day. So knowing that having the coronavirus could affect our performance, we were taking it really seriously," said Paulino.
Ultimately, spring training was cut short and the season suspended.
Now that Paulino is back home in Massachusetts, he’s trying his best to stay focused. He has some advice for all who are stuck at home and may be feeling a little stir crazy: try to keep a routine, stay busy, and be positive.
“I wake up at 6 a.m. still to keep my routine in and I’ll just lift weights here,” he said. “Be patient and hopefully good things, we’re gonna hear good things in the future."
Paulino is confident there will be a season, even if it doesn’t start for a few months. In the meantime, he’s listening to orders to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene.
“Everybody should just take precaution and stay home,” Paulino said. “In a few years, hopefully, I can get the call and make my Major League debut at Fenway Park.”
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