Major League Baseball announced Tuesday some of the unique features that will be a part of the 2020 regular season, including health and safety protocols that will impact play on the field as well as revised operating procedures away from it.
Summer Camp presented by Camping World begins on Wednesday, the mandatory reporting date. All players and club staff will be required to go through medical testing and screening processes before entering club facilities.
Full baseball activities and first workouts will be allowed on Friday, and each club’s Opening Day will be either Thursday, July 23rd or Friday, July 24th.
A sampling of the modifications includes:
» National League games will include the use of the designated hitter for the first time in history.
» An extra-innings rule will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base.
» The batter (or a substitute for the batter) who leads off an inning shall continue to be the batter who would lead off the inning in the absence of this extra-innings rule.
» The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter.
» For purposes of calculating earned runs, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.
» As previously announced, the new three-batter minimum rule will require the starting or any relief pitcher to pitch to a minimum of three batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness.
» Any player may appear as a pitcher at any point during the game (no extra-inning requirements or six-run rule, as were once planned for 2020). However, all players eligible to participate in the game, regardless of position, must be included on that game’s lineup card.
» Prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field. In this respect, players and managers should maintain physical distancing from all umpires and opposing players on the playing field whenever possible. Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions.
» Clubs may schedule up to three exhibition games before the end of Summer Camp. Clubs may consider scheduling games against their opening opponent in the days leading up to Opening Day. There is no limit on the number of intrasquad games.
A regionally-based schedule will feature each club playing 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographical division.