NEW YORK - Next week, Major League Baseball will finally resume spring training -- more than three months behidn schedule, but COVID-19 remains an ongoing threat. With that in mind, there will be new rules and procedures moving forward.
On Tuesday night, the MLB announced a return-to-play plan. Players report for training July 1, leading up to a proposed 60-game regular season schedule set to begin July 23 and 24.
There are some new rules and procedures going into effect. One includes no celebratory contact, like high fives and fist bumps.
Players and coaches and staff will get tested for COVID-19 every other day during trining, the regular season, and the postseason. Also, they'll get temperature checks and symptom checks twice daily.
No spitting or chewing of tobacco or sunflower seeds will be allowed.
A ball will also be thrown out once it's been touched by multiple players.
Flights are strictly prohibited.
This comes as several moinor league sites in the Tampa Bay area grapple with the affects of COVID-19, including multiple members of the Blue Jays players and staff reporting positive tests at their Dunedin facility.
Several tests also came back positive at the Phillies' Clearwater facility.
The Phillies and Blue Jays both shut down their training camp for deep cleaning, and the Tigers also reported a player and a staff member with positive tests in Lakeland.
Here is a full breakdown of the rules
Sixty games, the shortest major league schedule since 1878. Forty games vs. division rivals, 20 vs. corresponding division in other league.
A player receives prorated salary. A player on the roster for the entire season, if completed, would receive 60/162nds, or about 37%.
May opt out and receive salary and service time. Non-high-risk players who opt out do not receive salary or service time.
Start July 1, with staggered arrivals, with clubhouse and support staff first, then pitchers and catchers followed by position players. Intake screening must take place before entrance into a team facility.
Includes a temperature check with contactless thermometer, a body fluid sample of saliva or oral/nasal swab and a blood sample for antibody testing. An individual must self quarantine for about 24-48 hours until test results are reported. All individuals will have their temperature checked at least twice daily. Tier One individuals will be subject to diagnostic testing every other day throughout spring training, the season, and, if applicable, the postseason. All other covered individuals will be subject to diagnostic testing multiple times per week and antibody tests approximately once per month. Any covered individual who has a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees, comes in contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or exhibits a symptom will be subject to an immediate expedited diagnostic test. Any covered individual with a temperature of 100.4 or higher must self-isolate. A player who tests positive may not return to team facilities until the player has tested negative and is asymptomatic. A player who tests positive may not return to team facilities or travel with the team until the player has tested negative and is asymptomatic.
“Spring” training has three phases: individual and group workouts of five or fewer for pitchers and catchers (phase one), full-team workouts, with division into smaller groups if possible (two), exhibition games (three).
All teams other than Toronto intend to train at their regular-season ballparks. Toronto is speaking with its federal and provincial governments to gain permission to work out at Rogers Centre. Workouts are to be staggered throughout the day when possible to avoid overcrowding, or consider also using nearby minor league or college facilities to split groups.
AWAY FROM FIELD
No formal restrictions. MLB “will expect the covered individuals on each club to ensure that they all act responsibly.”
RULES AND REGULATIONS
The designated hitter rule (5.11) shall be extended to clubs in both leagues for all championship season and postseason games.
During the championship season only (not the postseason), rule 7.01(b) (extra innings”) will be modified in accordance with minor league regulations, such that each half-inning following the ninth inning will begin with a runner on second base. The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter.
WET RAG FOR PITCHERS
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in rule 6.02 (“Pitcher Illegal Action”), all pitchers may carry a small wet rag in their back pocket to be used for moisture in lieu of licking their fingers. Water is the only substance allowed on the rag. Pitchers may not access the rag while on the pitching rubber and must clearly wipe the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the pitcher’s rubber.
Rules 7.01 and 7.02 adjusted to permit the continuation of games of less than five complete innings that are ended because of weather. Such games shall be treated as suspended games that will be continued at a later date, resumed at the point of suspension.
The change enacted to rule 5.10 requiring a pitcher to face at least three batters or complete a half-inning will be enforced.
The prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct (rule 6.04) will be strictly enforced.
Spitting is prohibited, but chewing gum is permitted. No exchange of lineup cards. Players, umpires and other on-field personnel should practice physical distancing to the extent possible within the limitations of competition and baseball. On-field personnel should stand at least 6 feet apart during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” When the ball is out of play, fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps from runners. Catchers may step onto the infield grass to signal infielders. Coaches should not approach runners. Players on opposite teams should not socialize or come within 6 feet of each other before the game, during warm-ups, in-between innings or postgame. Players should keep and use their own personal equipment, whenever possible. Any baseball that is put in play and touched by multiple players shall be removed. After an out, players are discouraged from throwing the ball around the infield. Fighting and instigating fights are strictly prohibited. The duties normally handled by bat boys/girls and ball boys/girls will be performed by existing club staff. Other than balls stored in Arizona’s humidor, clubhouse staff are prohibited from handling game or practice baseballs without washing their hands, and without wearing face coverings and clean gloves. Individuals must use clean tap water or drinking water to supplement rubbing.
Each team can invite up to 60 players to the resumption of training.
Each team must submit by 4 p.m. EDT Sunday a 60-player pool eligible to participate this season, including players not on 40-man rosters and under contract. Players from the group not invited to spring training will report to the team’s designated alternate training site that is separate from where the active roster plays and can be reached without commercial air travel. A team at 60 cannot add a player except by removing a player with a transaction.
A team may carry up to three additional players on a taxi squad during road trips, and one must be a catcher if a team carries three. Players on the taxi squad get paid at the minor league rate of their contract and receive a $108.50 major league daily allowance while the team is on the road. Players on the taxi squad must return to the alternate training site when the club returns home, except one catcher may serve as a bullpen catcher for home games and receive the daily allowance for his first 14 days on the taxi squad.
The announced change of a 15-day minimum injured list and optional recall period for pitchers is eliminated. There will be a COVID-19 related injury list with no minimum time for players who test positive, are exposed to COVID-19 or show symptoms. The 60-day IL will be a 45-day IL.
A player who previously reported to spring training this year who is unable to report on time for the return shall receive up to 30 days of adjusted salary and major league service during time on the restricted list.
DATES TO WATCH
June 26 — Transaction freeze ends, noon EDT.
June 28 — Deadline for each team to submit list of 60 players eligible to play this season, 4 p.m. EDT.
July 1 — Players start to report.
July 18 or 19 — Last day to offer a retention bonus to an eligible player attending training with a minor league contract.
July 21 or 22 — Last day to place a player on waivers for 45 days termination pay at the adjusted rate.
July 23 or 24 — Opening Day, active rosters reduced to 30 players.
Aug. 6 or 7 — Active rosters reduced to 28 players.
Aug. 20 or 21 — Active rosters reduced to 26 players.
Aug. 31 — Last day during the season to trade a player.
Sept. 15 — Last day to be contracted to an organization and be eligible for postseason roster.
Sept. 29-30 — Wild-card games.
Oct. 20 — World Series starts.
Tier One: Maximum 60 players, one manager, 12 coaches, six physicians (two maximum at any time), and two each of bullpen catchers, athletic trainers, physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches, plus umpires and translators.
Tier Two: Up to 38 other essential personnel per team with a need access to clubhouses, dugouts, fields, training rooms and weight rooms, such as owners, front office, travel, communications, clubhouse and security staff, and head groundskeeper.
Tier Three: Up to 150 personnel per team. People who perform essential event services but do not require close contact with Tier One individuals. This tier may include broadcast and replay personnel, cleaning service providers, groundskeepers, transportation providers and additional stadium and security personnel not assigned to restricted areas. Clubs may designate up to 150 Tier 3 Individuals at any given time.
Use of showers “is discouraged but not prohibited.”
Occupancy limits. Players and Club staff should wear disposable surgical masks while in training rooms.
Should be held outdoors to the extent possible.
Minimum of 6 feet between stalls, to the extent practicable. Clubs should construct temporary space if needed. Buffet spreads prohibited and group dining discouraged. Communal video terminals is prohibited and players will be provided with personalized iPads program that can be loaded before and after games. Players may not enter more than five hours before the scheduled first pitch, except those undergoing rehabilitation. Players with no in-game or postgame responsibilities are encouraged to leave early. Players must leave within 90 minutes of the end of a game, unless medical treatment or rehab is needed.
Use of hydrotherapy and cryotherapy units permitted for pre- and postgame treatment, with a limit of one person at a time, including whirlpools and plunge pools.
Use discouraged when hitting outdoors is feasible.
Pitchers provided with a personal set of baseballs. Multiple pitchers should avoid throwing bullpens at the same time unless necessary in game. If there are simultaneous warm-ups during a game, pitchers should use every other mound to maintain distance, if possible.
To allow physical distancing, only Tier 1 Individuals active for that day’s game and who are likely to enter that game should be in the dugout. Inactive players may sit in auxiliary seating areas, including in the stands and with 6 feet of space between, with adequate shelter from weather. Dugout restrictions on electronic equipment also apply to auxiliary seating areas. Leaning on the dugout railing or ledges is discouraged, but permissible with use of a clean towel as a barrier. Dugout phones to be disinfected with anti-viral wipes after each use. Batting helmets must be individually cleaned and wrapped before being placed in equipment bags.
Occupancy limits and equipment relocated to better ventilated or outdoor areas if feasible.
Off limits to Tier One.
Tier One and Two individuals may not take bus or subway from residences or hotels to the ballpark but may take private transportation (including Uber and Lyft vehicles that meet CDC standards) or walk.
Teams should use private airports or private entrances at public airports when possible. Clubs should attempt to arrange TSA screening at ballparks or plane side. Whenever possible, charter flights should include first-class accommodations. Middle seats should be blocked. Members of travel party to be provided a single bag pre-packed with food, drink, snacks and disinfection wipes. Teams to provide at least two buses for transfers from airport to hotel, hotel to ballpark and ballpark to airport. Window seats should be boarded first and disembarked last. All travel party members must wear face coverings for bus travel. Windows on buses, including any emergency exits on the roof, should be opened if possible. Main boarding gates should be avoided at train stations.
No one in traveling party may make separate public or private housing arrangements while on the road. Room visits are permitted only by members of the traveling party, and immediate family members of the traveling party. Lower floors to be arranged where possible, so stairs can be used. No rooms on floors of the traveling party are to be booked for people not in the traveling part. No members of the travel party may eat in any restaurants in or outside the hotel. The travel party may not use hotel fitness center, pool, sauna or other shared hotel facility without advance team approval, which shall not be granted unless the team has exclusive use of the facility during its stay and the area is appropriately sanitized. Hotels are to make private entrances and exits available. A private area to be provided for check in. The team is provided individual hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products. Hotel staff assigned to the team must adhere to the team’s cleaning and hygiene protocols and must clean and disinfect touchpoints several times a day in areas accessible to the traveling party.
The Associated Press contributed to this report