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Spring training '21: New year, but COVID-19 protocols remain
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BASEBALL NEWS:
Spring training ’21: New year, but COVID-19 protocols remain

New York City (AP) – Finishing the 2020 season needed MLB to reword its guideline book. Arenas were cleared, schedules reworded. Some gamers pulled out. The ones that didn’t spat into COVID-19 screening cups till their mouths went dry.

“When it was all said and done, you kind of look back and go, ‘God, that was the longest 60 games I’ve ever been a part of,” veteran pitcher Jon Lester stated last month.

Well, to obtain from another Chicago Cubs favorite:

Let’s play 162!

Versus the background of a still harmful coronavirus pandemic, pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training today, the initial step in a 2021 season that will take much of the intricacies from 2020’s 60-game sprint and extend them over an extra 4 months.

Sure, there’s the typical buzz over gamers with new houses. Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, intending to press the upstart San Diego Padres over the top. Still in their method, the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who updated with NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer. Francisco Lindor is a Met, Nolan Arenado a Cardinal, and George Springer and Marcus Semien have actually enrolled on heaven Jays.

This season, however, guarantees to once again be specified by the pandemic.

Uses by MLB to postpone opening day were turned down by the gamers’ association last month, defaulting the league into an on-time start.

Baseball will once again utilize seven-inning doubleheaders and runners on 2nd base to begin additional innings – experiments presented throughout in 2015’s condensed routine season to relieve the concern on pitchers in the middle of a flood of posts ponement triggered by favorable tests and contact tracing.

Sunflower seeds are still disallowed, and high-fives discredited, too. Although limited-capacity crowds are anticipated at numerous arenas, autographs will remain a no-no.

Other 2020 modifications have actually been placed on the bench. The universal designated player is gone, and no offer has actually been reached to re-expand the postseason. Naturally, in 2015’s arrangement to fatten the playoff field from 10 to 16 groups wasn’t completed till hours prior to the very first pitch on opening day, so there’s precedent for a late modification.

However, the league and union have actually settled on little recently – barely an appealing indication with the cumulative bargaining arrangement set to end Dec. 1. Anticipate chatter about that this spring, too.

Arranging figures to remain a headache. There were 45 video games delayed for coronavirus-related factors in 2015, and all but 2 were comprised.

Gamers will once again be evaluated 3-4 times weekly for COVID-19 and greatly limited in what they can do throughout their time off. Lester, signed by Washington as a complimentary representative in January after 6 seasons with the Cubs, compared the fatigue of in 2015’s protocols to a deep playoff run.

“Mentally, you don’t realize how draining it is until you’re done,” he stated. “I think last year was that. It was two months of that mental grind of the testing, worrying about the testing, making sure you’re doing all the right things.”

And now it’s time to begin all over, starting quickly in Clearwater, Tempe and all the familiar camp websites.

Spring lineups will be restricted to 75 gamers, with minors camps postponed till the huge leaguers leave town for opening day April 1. For fans accustomed to checking out the backfields, there won’t be much to see.

The bright side for all included – spread of the infection has actually slowed near camps. Arizona has actually dropped from a peak of almost 14,000 day-to-day cases to under 3,000, while Florida went from a high of 19,000 day-to-day cases to under 8,000.

Still, MLB has actually embraced additional spring safety measures. The Grapefruit League schedule was revamped to restrict travel, and clubs won’t play exhibits versus regional colleges – generally a spring staple. Some early video games might be reduced to 5 or 7 innings, and half-innings can be cancelled prior to 3 outs if a pitcher has actually tossed a minimum of 20 pitches.

MLB has actually declared billions in losses after playing the 2020 season practically totally without fans, and complimentary representatives were satisfied by a slow market this winter season.

Numerous significant gamers remain readily available. Righty starter Jake Odorizzi, an All-Star in 2019, is still without an offer after numerous conditions destroyed his 2020. Gold Glove center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hasn’t discovered a house, either. Trevor Rosenthal, Taijuan Walker and others might assist a competitor, too.

Champion supervisors Alex Cora and AJ Hinch are back after serving 1 year restrictions coming from the 2017 Houston Astros unfaithful scandal. Cora – fired by Boston soon prior to in 2015’s camp opened – was re-hired by the Red Sox, where he won a title in 2018. Hinch, fired as Houston’s supervisor in the wake of his suspension, was worked with to change Ron Gardenhire in Detroit.

The only other new supervisor is a throwback – Tony La Russa, now in charge of the Chicago White Sox. Currently a Hall of Famer, La Russa hasn’t handled because 2011, and his hiring was satisfied by uncertainty about his prospective handling of modern-day gamers.

La Russa in specific is returning to a various video game. And while numerous current modifications haven’t been entirely popular with fans, the agreement is that all these adjustments are baseball’s finest possibility at normalcy.

“I actually liked both the seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner on second,” Oakland supervisor Bob Melvin composed in a text to the AP. “I was skeptical at first, but they both were successful in my opinion.”

___

AP Baseball Author Janie McCauley added to this report.

___

Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

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