Major League Baseball and the players union announced an enhanced set of health and safety protocols for spring training and the 2021 season on Tuesday.
Two rules introduced during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season return — seven-inning games for doubleheaders and placing a runner on second base to start extra innings — however the universal designated hitter is gone, meaning pitchers will once again go to bat in the National League.
Spring training begins on Feb. 17 and the full 162-game regular season opens on April 1.
“We were able to complete a successful and memorable 2020 season due to the efforts and sacrifices made by our players, Club staff and MLB employees to protect one another. The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format,” MLB said in a release.
“… We all know the commitment it will take from each of us to keep everyone safe as we get back to playing baseball, and these enhanced protocols will help us do it together.”
Players are required to self-quarantine at home for five days before reporting to spring training.
Players and other on-field personnel will be tested for COVID-19 at least every other day. Symptom screens and temperature checks will be recorded at least twice daily. Anyone testing positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
Players and staff cannot attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, including restaurants, bars, fitness centers and entertainment venues. Guests are not permitted inside players’ rooms at team hotels. Players can only meet with household or family members outdoors.
Kinexon contact tracing devices are required at all times, and face coverings must be worn except when players are on the field during a game or for pre-game warmups.
Individuals who violate the code of conduct “are subject to potential discipline, including suspension or forfeiture of salary,” according to the league statement.
–Field Level Media