Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have reached an agreement on health and safety protocols for Spring Training and the 2021 regular season, MLB announced on Tuesday.
The agreed-upon protocols will keep a pair of rules introduced last year during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season: seven-inning doubleheader games and placing a runner on second base to begin extra innings.
“We were able to complete a successful and memorable 2020 season due to the efforts and sacrifices made by our players, club staff and MLB employees to protect one another," MLB said in its announcement. "The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format. We have built on last year’s productive collaboration between MLB and the Players Association by developing an enhanced safety plan with the consultation of medical experts, infectious disease specialists, and experts from other leagues. We all know the commitment it will take from each of us to keep everyone safe as we get back to playing baseball, and these enhanced protocols will help us do it together.”
The agreement does not include a universal designated hitter. In 2020, the National League implemented the DH on a full-time basis for the first (and so far only) time in its history. The MLBPA recently rejected MLB’s proposal for a one-month delayed, 154-game season with full pay for 162 games that included the universal DH and an expanded postseason.
MLB will now move forward with a full 162-game season as originally scheduled. Spring Training is set to begin Feb. 17, and Opening Day is scheduled for April 1.
The agreement also includes contact-tracing technology used in the NBA that could allow for better discovery of those who come in close proximity to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.