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UNM baseball returns after virus protocols

The University of New Mexico baseball team will return to practice Sunday. When the Lobos will play next is less certain.

After losing two weeks and two Mountain West series to COVID-19 protocols, UNM’s players and coaches have posted consistent negative test results and have been cleared to return to action, coach Ray Birmingham said Saturday.

The Lobos had one player test positive April 4, one day after the team returned from a series at San Diego State. UNM has not identified the player, but Birmingham said the player has no symptoms and needs only to undergo a required cardio workup before rejoining the team.

New Mexico (8-14, 6-9 MWC) had back-to-back conference series against San Jose State and Nevada canceled and is scheduled to host UNLV for three games starting next Saturday. That series is now in doubt because of a positive COVID test and contact tracing within the Rebels’ program. UNLV’s scheduled series this week against San Jose State was called off.

The Mountain West has made no announcement regarding the UNM-UNLV series, but Birmingham wants to avoid another idle weekend for his team. If the series is canceled, he hopes to schedule a nonconference series in its place.

Birmingham said he has received emails and texts from other programs who are seeking to replace games lost to COVID.

“It’s really important to get the kids back on the field,” Birmingham said. “They’ve taken the quarantine period well, no complaints, but it’s frustrating. They feel fine and they want to play baseball. We’ll do our best to make it happen.”

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