MLB safety protocols for potential season: no high-fives, plenty of COVID-19 tests

MLB safety protocols for potential season: no high-fives, plenty of COVID-19 tests

  • 0
Dodger Stadium is viewed on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball's opening day, now postponed due to the coronavirus, on March 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Dodger Stadium is viewed on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball's opening day, now postponed due to the coronavirus, on March 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/TNS)

There will be no spitting in baseball this season. And no high-fives, fist-bumps, hugs, smokeless tobacco and the chewing of sunflower seeds.

Something there will be an abundance of if Major League Baseball can reach an agreement with players on salaries and launch an abbreviated 82-game season in empty stadiums in early July: COVID-19 tests.

That much is clear from the proposed health and safety protocols for avoiding the spread of the coronavirus in a 67-page document MLB sent to the players union Friday night, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

"I'm hopeful we will have Major League Baseball this summer," commissioner Rob Manfred told CNN Thursday night. "But those plans are dependent on what the public health situation is, and us reaching the conclusion that it will be safe for our players and other employees to come back to work."

The MLB "2020 Operations Manual," which is subject to union approval, calls for a maximum of 50 players per club to report to a three-phase spring training in mid-June - pitchers and catchers, followed by position players and a limited number of intrasquad and exhibition games. Players would be in small groups, with workouts staggered throughout the day.

Stadiums would be limited to "essential personnel," 100-150 people broken into safety tiers, with players, a manager, eight uniformed coaches, two bullpen catchers, two athletic trainers, two team physicians, a head strength-and-conditioning coach and umpires in Tier 1.

Tier 2 would consist of clubhouse staff, additional coaches, traveling staff, front office executives, public relations officials, translators, video and replay personnel and a head groundskeeper. Tier 3 would consist of individuals who perform essential event services but do not require close contact with Tier 1 individuals.

Social distancing would be encouraged in the clubhouse, with lockers spaced six feet apart. Showering would be discouraged at club facilities. Saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools and cryotherapy chambers would be prohibited.

The use of indoor batting cages would be discouraged. Pitchers would use a personal set of baseballs during bullpen sessions. Exchanging of lineup cards and mound visits would be prohibited.

Players would be encouraged to remain in team hotels on the road, and the use of private transportation would be discouraged.

"The careless actions of a single member of the team places the entire team (and their families) at risk," the document says. "Teams should agree on their own off-field code of conduct for themselves and family members to minimize the risk to the team."

Players, coaches and umpires would be tested several times a week for the coronavirus, mostly using saliva tests, and occasional antibody tests. They would undergo temperature checks and symptom screenings twice a day.

The Sports Medicine Research and Testing Lab in Salt Lake City, which MLB uses for minor league drug testing, would be converted into a COVID-19 testing site, "and the lab has assured us of a 24-hour turnaround on all of our tests," Manfred said.

The document said MLB would offer free diagnostic and antibody/serology testing for family members, health care workers and other first responders in the clubs' home cities as a public service.

Players, coaches and other essential personnel would conduct daily home screenings. Any individual who reports COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature above 100 degrees would be prohibited from entering a club facility and be directed to self-isolate.

Those who test positive would be immediately quarantined, though not necessarily for 14 days. While in isolation for a positive test, individuals would receive remote care from club medical staff, as well as regular follow-up testing.

"Our experts are advising us that we won't need a 14-day quarantine," Manfred said. "They will be quarantined until they have two negative tests over a 24-hour period.

"We hope that we will be able to convince the vast majority of our players that it's safe to return to work," Manfred said. "At the end of the day, however, if there are players with health conditions or just their own personal doubts, we would never try to force them to come back to work. They can wait until they feel ready to come."

Visit the Los Angeles Times at

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

The Major League Baseball season would be about one-third of the way through its 162-game schedule if not for the coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA and NHL would have been closer to crowning their champions. While NASCAR is running live races without spectators, The Associated Press looks at some of the other sporting events that had been scheduled the week of May 25-31:

Major League Baseball's proposal to players for avoiding the spread of the novel coronavirus during a potential abbreviated season was obtained by The Times last weekend. The "2020 Operations Manual" is a hefty document but essential in addressing one of the two most crucial issues - money being the other - that the two sides must bridge before teams begin an abbreviated spring training. Here ...

As the 30 MLB team owners and the players union bicker over how to divvy up the revenue in a potential 2020 season, at least they are projecting to have some cash hitting the books. Ticket revenue and concessions accounted for 30-40% of the $10.7 billion MLB made last season, and teams won't have that this season. But revenue of local TV contracts, even if prorated, and the windfall from the ...

All that matters this week is everything. If a baseball season is to be saved, if MLB is, as it has often said, to be part of the healing of America, then this is the week to either put up or continue to recede from the nation's consciousness. After a month worth of posturing - and some world-class leaking - the league and its Players Association must reach an agreement about the protocols and ...

  • Updated

The Oakland Athletics are placing their scouts and a significant number of other front office employees on furlough, suspending pay for minor leaguers and cutting the salaries of other executives as part of a cost-cutting move in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News