The players union and team owners on Tuesday agreed on health and safety protocols that will guide the sport as it returns amid the coronavirus global outbreak. The regular season will commence on July 23 or 24 and conclude on Sept. 27, featuring several new elements.
After nearly three months of failed negotiations between MLB owners and the players association, Major League baseball imposed a 60-game schedule. This decision was within the league’s rights according to a March 26 agreement. Teams will report to training camp on July 1.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games. We are excited to provide our great fans with baseball again soon.”
The 2020 season will be the shortest in league history since 1878. The schedule will be based on geographical alignment. Each team will play its divisional rivals 10 times, plus another 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding regional division.
If baseball is to return, the league must approach the season very differently. Along with implementing coronavirus safety protocols, MLB will also adjust some of its rules to account for the shortened season.
According to the health and safety protocols, players will be tested for coronavirus every other day. Teams and personnel not expected to participate in a game will sit in the stands or other designated areas, at least six feet apart.
The league will also require all non-playing personnel to wear masks while in the dugout and bullpen. Spitting and chewing tobacco is prohibited, as is celebratory contact such as high-fives and fists bumps.
Coronavirus concerns have increased over the past week as players and staff members from a few organizations have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven members of the Philadelphia Phillies club and three Colorado Rockies players recently tested positive.