MLB, players agree to health protocols, but Tigers spring schedule still in limbo
Lakeland, Fla. — Well, it’s not exactly going to be business as usual.
Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed on some health and safety protocols Monday to help navigate, through the lingering pandemic, a full 162-game schedule.
Retained from 2020 are seven-inning doubleheaders and the extra-inning rules (starting extra innings with a runner at second base). The designated hitter will be used in the American League only and active rosters, as of right now, will be limited to 26, expanding to 28 on Sept. 1.
Teams will be required to submit a list of 28 players to the league on opening day. The extra two players will be assigned to either Triple A or an alternate site. Teams will be allowed to carry up to five players, including a catcher, on a taxi squad for road games.
Many of the health protocols are similar to what the league put in place last season, including wearing masks, social-distancing measures on and off the field, every other day testing and restrictions in terms of limiting social contact.
This year, though, the two sides agreed to levying fines and possibly suspensions for multiple violations.
Significantly, players will wear sensors that will help monitor social distancing and help with contact tracing. The sensors were effective during the NBA and NFL seasons.
Presently, Major League Baseball is working on altering the spring training schedule for the 15 teams that train in Florida. The discussed plan was to create separate pods for teams on the west coast and east coast to limit travel and exposure.
There are nine teams located on the west side and five along the east coast. The Tigers are the lone team located in central Florida. Logistically, the Tigers would travel less if they were in the west pod, but that would leave a very unbalanced schedule.
Here are some rules that have been agreed to for spring training:
► Teams can invite no more than 75 players to their spring complexes.
► Spring training will be divided into three phases.
Phase 1, Feb. 17-Feb. 21: Individual and small group workouts (eight players or less).
Phase 2, Feb. 21-Feb.26: Full team workouts, including intrasquad games.
Phase 3, Feb. 27 through the end of March: Exhibition games. Games played through March 13 may be shortened to five or seven innings on the mutual agreement of the managers. Also, innings can be shortened. Games from March 14 on will be nine innings, though they too could be shortened to seven innings by agreement between managers.
The Tigers last week sent out a tentative spring training roster. Besides every player on the 40-man roster, the club also invited these prospects and non-roster players:
LHP Derek Holland
LHP Ian Krol
LHP Miguel Del Pozo
LHP Robbie Ross
RHP Zack Hess
RHP Gerson Moreno
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
RHP Nolan Blackwood
RHP Drew Carlton
RHP Ethan DeCaster
RHP Jason Foley
RHP Wladimir Pinto
RHP David McKay
RHP Andrew Moore
RHP Logan Shore