April 2 feels like a lifetime ago, that spring day the Red Sox were supposed to play their home opener. But the coronavirus pandemic shut down the game, the country and the world.

More than three months later, the Red Sox are finally playing on their Opening Day, sort of.

“I think, probably, the opinion I held the most often was that we weren’t going to come back," said Matt Collins, managing editor at Over the Monster, a Red Sox blog on SB Nation. "And I think I pretty much felt that way basically up until this past weekend, I guess. It started to really hit me that this is actually going to happen.”

Like so many other fans who have been floating endlessly without baseball, Collins finally has games to look forward to, starting Friday. But they won’t be like normal ones.

No fans will be watching every pitch, swing and catch at Fenway this season. No one will cheer a home run over the Green Monster or post Ks for strikeouts. No one will start a “Yankees Suck” chant because the Bronx Bombers come to town or maybe just because the sky turned blue.

On the field, the season has been cut to 60 games from the usual 162. During the regular season, teams will only play teams that are geographically close to them, regardless of whether they’re in the American League or National League. Designated hitters will be universal.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in several states across the country, precautions remain in place to attempt to keep players safe. Sunflower seeds and chewing tobacco are a no-go. So too are high fives and other "celebratory contact." Arguments with umpires or members of the other team must be shouted from a minimum of six feet away. There will be no jawboning face-to-face.

But even with these restrictions, when the Sox reported to camp earlier this month, Manager Ron Roenicke was optimistic.

“Being back on the field, I think, made everybody feel good. Made the staff feel good, front office and certainly the players," he said. "So if we can continue with this and, like I said, keep everybody as healthy as we can, I think everybody’s looking forward to getting this going and getting the season going again.”

First the pandemic hit the country. Then a labor dispute between players and owners nearly derailed the season entirely.

That conflict got resolved, but Collins says questions still linger, including whether players and staff will be safe and whether coronavirus tests in high demand should be used on baseball teams.

“There’s definitely some conflicted feelings. I love baseball. My job partially depends on baseball happening," he said. "I’ve been kind of sick of talking in hypotheticals and everything. So I’m really excited to actually be able to talk about things that are happening out in the field in real time again.”

Baseball is back. It won’t look the same, it may not feel the same, but the game is the game. There willll still be a pitcher, a batter and a catcher. Four infielders. Three outfielders. One ball.

And let’s face it, at this point, most Red Sox fans wouldn’t mind watching A-Rod suit up for the hometown team, as long as they get some baseball.

After months of shutdowns, social distancing and stress, the Red Sox are ready to play ball, to try to bring some normalcy to a summer that has been anything but.

Happy Opening Day. Or, maybe a better way of putting it: Happy Re-Opening Day.