A look at some of the 2020 rules as MLB returns

In about 30 days, there will be Major League Baseball. The season will consist of just 60 games, which is 37 percent of a normal season. But we will see the Orioles return. They’ll play against the American League East and also against teams from the National League East.

Last night, MLB players and owners finalized their protocols for health and safety during a pandemic. That was about the final hurdle before MLB could announce, as it did last night, that opening day will be July 23 or 24. The Orioles will play 40 games versus their own division, with 10 each versus the other four teams, and 20 against the NL East. This is expected to include six games against a rival we can assume will be Washington and 14 versus the other four teams.

By the way, the Orioles went 24-52 (.316) last year versus the AL East. But that included a .105 winning percentage against New York (2-17) and .386 versus everyone else. That included a 7-12 mark versus Boston and Tampa Bay and an 8-11 record against Toronto.

At 60 games, this will be the shortest MLB season since 1878.

Teams are expected to retain 60 players, which includes a taxi squad. They’ll begin the year with 30-man active rosters. Spring training 2.0 will begin on July 1 and is expected to happen mostly at home ballparks. The Orioles could also use some of their affiliate ballparks for workouts.

There is no official word yet on the minor league season, but it is likely to be canceled. It makes me sad to read and type such words.

Valaika-Trots-Home-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgMLB clubs could make other arrangements for their players. We could see an expanded Arizona Fall League and/or a Florida fall league made up of players all from one organization. But nothing has been announced yet.

One report I saw stated that clubs will use the designated for both teams during interleague games. But another said the DH will be used in all games, including the postseason. The trading deadline will be Aug. 31.

The Athletic’s Jayson Stark tweeted out some of the other rules we should expect to see in 2020:

* To be eligible for postseason, players must be added to big-league roster by Sept. 15.

* The season will start with 30-man rosters, which will go down to 28 after two weeks and 26 after four weeks. Pitchers and catchers report to camp first, then position players.

* The transactions freeze ends Friday at noon Eastern time.

* Teams must submit their 60-man player pool names by Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

* In-person scouting will be allowed. Teams can take up to three taxi squad players on road (but if three, one must be a catcher).

* Teams can invite all 60 players to big league spring training or can send up to 20 players (not on 40-man roster) to an alternate site. Not all players on 40-man roster must be invited to big league spring training (but if not invited, they must still be paid).

And from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

* MLB has the right to relocate teams during the regular season to neutral sites for health and safety reasons, including the postseason.

* Players will be prohibited from arriving more than five hours before game time and staying longer than 90 minutes after a game.

* The injured list for all players this season will be 10 days. There will be expanded roster for September.

A rule that will not be popular, it is safe to say, is placing a runner at second base to start each half-inning in extra innings. This is being put in place to end games sooner and it works in that regard. But it’s going to be real strange. The runner will be the batter that made the last out of the previous inning. If that runner scores, the run is unearned to the pitcher. I’ll go more in depth on this rule in the next day or two in a subsequent entry.

The game’s owners and players put the fans and all of us through the ringer the last few months. There is so much distrust and it sure appears, dislike between them. It won’t be long from now when they will battle big time again when the current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of 2021.

But for now, at least, it feels good to write about a new season about to begin.

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