MLB announces rules and protocols for 2021

The Orioles begin spring training next week with a much better idea of the rules and health and safety protocols awaiting them in 2021.

The wait is finally over.

Major League Baseball offered confirmation on some details that recently began to leak, including how rosters will hold 26 players and increase to 28 in September. There's no limit on the number of pitchers.

Any clubs that experience a COVID-19 outbreak among its players are allowed to add to the major league active list temporarily, without the need for those players to be placed on waivers, outrighted or optioned in order to be removed from the 40-man roster when players return from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Doubleheaders again will consist of only seven innings, the pandemic arrangement in 2020. And extra innings will begin again with a runner on second base.

The taxi squads for road games can hold as many as five players, with one designated as the catcher. Those players will return to the alternate camp site at the conclusion of each trip.

Thumbnail image for Hyde-Mask-Camden-Yards-Stands-Sidebar.jpgThe health and safety protocols are documented in an operations manual that has been distributed to the 30 major league clubs.

Kinexon contact tracing devices must be worn at all times while in club facilities, during team-directed travel and while engaged in team activities, including group workouts and practices.

The operations manual states that repeated failure to wear the devices or return it to the Kinexon device docking station may be a basis for discipline. Violations of the MLB or club codes of conduct or of spring training home quarantine "are subject to potential discipline, including but not limited to suspension or forfeiture of salary for days spent away from the club while in mandatory self-isolation or quarantine resulting from the violation."

An individual who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of seven days and must test negative on the fifth day or later, among other requirements to rejoin the facilities. Additional monitoring precautions for individuals who are not designated as close contacts will also be required.

For spring training, the regular season and postseason, individuals "may not attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars and lounges, fitness and wellness centers, entertainment venues, gaming venues (e.g., casinos) or any other activity that is prohibited by state or local governments."

There will be no exchange of lineup cards, with teams again using a mobile application.

A statement from MLB read: "We were able to complete a successful and memorable 2020 season due to the efforts and sacrifices made by our players, Club staff and MLB employees to protect one another. The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format.

"We have built on last year's productive collaboration between MLB and the Players Association by developing an enhanced safety plan with the consultation of medical experts, infectious disease specialists, and experts from other leagues. We all know the commitment it will take from each of us to keep everyone safe as we get back to playing baseball, and these enhanced protocols will help us do it together."

Orioles pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 16, with the first full-squad workout on Feb. 22.

Outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini arrived ahead of the position players, revealing in his hour-long segment today on MLB Network Radio that he's been taking on-field batting practice and working out at the facility.

"I feel great and I'm excited to be back," Mancini said.

Mancini added that he's already hit a home run, noting that the wind was blowing out to left field and he got the first long ball out of the way early.

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