Major League Baseball will look somewhat like high school ball this year under protocols to deal with the new coronavirus, with showers at ballparks discouraged and players possibly arriving in uniform, like they did when they were teenagers. Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips. Even the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met will be missing, banned from the field along with all other team mascots. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps, and bat boys and girls, according to a 67-page draft of Major League Baseball´s proposed 2020 Operations Manual. A copy was sent to teams Friday.
- Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still be negotiated.
- Spitting is prohibited along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers.
- Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged, batting gloves encouraged.
- Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use.
- Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they’re not allowed to lick their fingers.
- Teams are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, players spread apart.
- Seats in the empty stands near the dugout should be used to maintain distance, according to diagrams in the manual, and the next day’s starting pitcher can’t sit in the dugout.
- Everyone must keep their distance during The Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America.
- Fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner between pitches.
- First and third base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires, and players should not socialize with opponents.
- Managers and coaches must wear masks while in the dugouts.
Photo Credit: Toronto Blue Jays via Twitter