LOS ANGELES -- Baseball in 2020 is not going to look exactly how the Dodgers envisioned it when they executed the blockbuster trade to bring former MVP Mookie Betts over from the Red Sox in February. But there will be baseball in 2020 -- and fans will, finally, get the chance to see Betts in a Dodgers uniform in regular-season play.
After baseball shut down in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced plans on Tuesday for the sport’s return, though each team's schedule has not yet been finalized. It’ll be a much shorter season than usual -- 60 regular-season games -- and there are going to be numerous changes, to account for the diminished schedule, as well as in the interest of safety.
Here’s what you need to know about the Dodgers’ 2020 season:
• MLB announces 2020 regular season
When will camp start, and where?
The first formal workout will be at Dodger Stadium on July 3. “Summer camp” will consist mostly of workouts and intrasquad games, with the possibility of a few exhibition games against other nearby teams toward the end of camp.
“We really are still trying to understand all the protocols, as far as if it’s got to be staggered, how staggered it has to be or can be,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Pitchers vs. catchers vs. just position players. So we really don’t know, but I do envision a lot of live batting practices, because you can’t count on [having] exhibition games. … Intrasquad [games], the live BPs, I think [there will be] a lot of that.”
When is Opening Day?
The 60-game schedule proposed by Major League Baseball has been sent to the Major League Baseball Players Association for approval. The tentative plan is for all clubs to open the regular season on either July 23 or 24.
Which teams will be on the schedule?
To limit travel distances, teams would play a majority of games against their division opponents (40, or 10 against each division opponent) and the rest against their geographic counterpart in the other league (in the Dodgers’ case, the American League West). Thus, the Dodgers will play 10 games each against the D-backs, Giants, Padres and Rockies, and the remaining 20 games against the A’s, Angels, Astros, Mariners and Rangers.
How are the Dodgers’ injured players doing?
When play was suspended, the only two injuries of immediate concern were oblique strains sustained by outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Dustin May, but both are healed. Pitcher Jimmy Nelson was originally expected to open the season on the injured list because of lingering back and groin injuries.
“[Nelson is] out here [in Los Angeles] now, and we’ll know a lot more at the end of this week, into the weekend, and we’ll have a feel for whether he’ll be a full-go or not,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Thursday. “He’s been throwing bullpens.”
What are some competitions to watch when camp resumes?
Assuming everyone is healthy, the roster is essentially set as camp begins. Will Smith and Austin Barnes will share catching duties. Gavin Lux is likely to play second base against right-handed pitchers, with Max Muncy (when he’s not at first base), Enrique Hernández and Chris Taylor mixed in. Pederson and A.J. Pollock are likely to share left field.
Who will serve as the DH?
With a loaded roster, the Dodgers won’t have a “designated” designated hitter. Instead, they likely will use it as a method for players like Justin Turner, Pederson, Muncy and Matt Beaty to bat while resting on defense. In 10 Interleague road games last year, six Dodgers served as DH (Turner, Beaty, Pederson, Smith, Pollock and David Freese, who has retired).
• FAQ: All you need to know about 2020 season
How will rosters be different? How will those changes affect the Dodgers?
To help ease players into competition, each club will have a 30-man roster for the first two weeks, 28 for the next two weeks, and 26 for the remainder of the season.
Teams will submit lists of 60 players eligible to play in 2020 -- the 40-man roster plus an additional pool of 20 players. Teams will also be allowed a "taxi squad" of three players that will join the team on road trips in case of injury, with the players subject to change each trip. Inclusion in a taxi squad will not affect players’ service time, meaning the Dodgers could include prospects who have yet to debut in the Majors as a way to keep them active while Minor League Baseball remains shut down. Right-hander Josiah Gray, the club’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is a good candidate, as is catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 4), even though his expected debut is not until 2021.
“A lot will just depend on where we’re at at that time, what our roster looks like,” said Friedman. “I imagine there’s going to be times that we want to carry a few more pitchers than we otherwise would. There may be times when we have a longer stretch with more off-days, where it’s easier for us to carry a few more position players. And so, depending on what the composition of our roster is, [that] will help determine the taxi players that we carry with us.
“I think the most important part is about having them travel with you when going somewhere that’s a plane ride away, to not rely on commercial air travel. So that’s a thing where we’ll have to be mindful and thoughtful before a trip, is who are the three players we’ll want to bring for that road trip. Other than that, I think we can kind of read and react day to day.”
• Roster and transaction rules for 2020
The regular injured list will be for 10 days in 2020 for both position players and pitchers, as it was in '19. MLB is also instituting a special COVID-19-related injured list for players who test positive, have confirmed exposure or are exhibiting symptoms. There would not be a minimum or maximum number of days players can spend on this list; any player who tests positive will not be allowed to return until he tests negative twice.
Players optioned or designated outright off the roster must remain that way for a minimum of 10 days before they can be recalled.
How can I watch the games?
Spectrum SportsNet LA televises the games and, this year, will be seen on DirecTV for the first time. Out-of-market Dodgers games can be streamed LIVE on MLB.TV on your favorite supported devices.
How can I listen?
AM 570 Sports carries all Dodgers games in English. AM 1020 KTNQ carries the games in Spanish. Every Dodgers game can be heard LIVE online or on the go with MLB Audio.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.
Sarah Wexler is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @SarahWexler32.