Just last week, the Major League Baseball player’s union stuck it to the man. They flat out rejected Commissioner Rob Manfred’s proposal of a shortened season and extended playoffs, similar to last year. What this means is the Major League Baseball season will start on time. The league will observe a normal Spring Training, and play a full 162-game schedule. A lot of things may be different, however, starting with Spring Training.
With COVID-19 still a factor in basically all facets of life, baseball is going to consist of all sorts of precautions. Arizona and Florida are still hotspots for the virus, so restrictions will be applied heavily. Since MLB cut down on Minor League teams, there’ll be fewer players present and more space in the locker rooms. There is also a separation with both the Major and Minor Leagues. Players on the 75 man roster will arrive first in February, and the minor leaguers will arrive later. The reason for this is the delayed start to the minor league season. This will benefit for social distancing and keep a so-called “bubble.”
The next measure will apply more toward teams who play in Florida. With stadiums there more spread out, they will limit travel to and from different Spring Training sites by setting up two hubs. This also means that Florida teams will play fewer games.
One last interesting aspect is that there will also be some fans in attendance at the games. The Red Sox and Twins plan on limiting fans to 2,400 per game and will hang inside pods. These pods will contain family members and friends only, all sitting together. Masks are worn at all times with the exception of the consumption of food and drink.
No, this won’t be a normal Spring Training or even season by any means. It will, however, be much closer to normality than what fans and teams experienced last season.