MLB’s efforts to keep players safe and healthy

According to an article in The Athletic, Major League Baseball has presented the players with a 67-page document detailing health protocals for the 2020 season. A season they hope can begin sometime in early July. One that will apparently consist of only 82 games and begin, at least at the outset, without fans in the stands.

This includes plans for players to practice social distancing when not on the field, to avoid high fives and shaking hands after wins, no pregame exchange of lineup cards and umpires throwing a baseball out of play after several players have come into contact with it.

The article can be found here (subscription required). MLB officials presented the MLB Players Association with the document Friday and the players must now approve and sign off on it. USA Today has more on this story here.

The plan is quite extensive and is going to make this challenging for players and staff. If they play this year, what we see will certainly take some getting used to.

The plan calls for a maximum of 50 players at spring training, which they intend to play at clubs’ in-season ballparks. College and/or minor league facilities close by could also be used. Workouts will be staggered throughout the day to avoid too many players together at one time.

Wojciehowski-Throwing-Black-Sidebar.jpgThe Athletic also reported these as just some of many, many elements that will be in place:

* Pitchers will use a personal set of baseballs during bullpen sessions and separate balls to demonstrate pitching grips or mechanics.

* Only necessary players will be in dugouts. Inactive players may sit in auxiliary seating areas, including adjacent in-stadium seating to maximize physical distancing.

* Dugout phones will be disinfected after each use.

* Lockers should be six feet apart. If this is not possible, clubs should erect temporary clubhouse or locker facilities in unused stadium space, preferably outdoors or in areas with increased ventilation.

* Showering will be discouraged at club facilities.

It is clear that MLB has put a lot in place and is taking just about every precaution that it can, including extensive testing and protocals for if a player ever tests positive for coronavirus. Their plans seem very thorough to me. Maybe even too much so, to the point that some of these may change or be scaled back before they actually would take the field.

One player recently mentioned something about players “risking their lives.” While no place is 100 percent safe right now, the MLB plan seems pretty solid to me. I personally feel that hospital and frontline workers have been out there truly risking their lives for us for weeks and weeks. I’m not sure an MLB player should equate that risk with this one. Just my two cents.

To me, MLB has done about all it can to protect players and staff. Nowhere we go right now or no business about to reopen can tell its employees they will be 100 percent safe when they return to work. No place. But MLB’s attempt to minimize risk is impressive to me.

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