Major League Baseball players will head to training camps after the 4th of July holiday after their union and team owners agreed to a plan for a 60-game season to start on July 23.
It took months of hand wringing and failed negotiations, a shortened season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic that will run through Sept. 27, and then begin a playoff march toward the World Series.
Games will be played in empty stadiums, at least to start. The season’s success depends on the ability to contain the virus spread, an issue the health and safety protocols that address everything from travel to social distancing to a ban on spitting. Players will be tested every other day.
And just like everything else in this “new normal,” the American Pastime is going to look a bit different:
- Teams will play their four divisional opponents 10 times and the other 20 games against interleague opponents in the same geographical area (i.e. National League East teams vs. American League East teams).
- The National League will use a designated hitter.
- In extra innings, teams will begin with a runner on second base.
- Rosters will start at 30 men for the first two weeks then go to 28 for the next two weeks and stay at 26 for the remainder of the season.
- Teams will have a taxi squad that allows them to have as many as 60 players available to play in major league games.
- There will be a COVID-19 injured list with no minimum or maximum length of time spent on it, while standard injured list stints will be for 10 days and the typical 60-day stint will instead be for 45 days.