MLB’s Proposed Coronavirus Health Protocol Would Include 10K Tests Each Week, Social Distancing In Dugouts

A picture of Wrigley Field closed during the coronavirus outbreak.
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Major League Baseball is taking steps toward starting its shortened season, but a draft report of the league’s proposed health protocol shows that it would come with significant restrictions, including social distancing in the dugout and a slew of weekly tests.

As USA Today reported, the league sent a draft “2020 Operations Manual” to the Major League Baseball Players Association and shared it with players on Saturday. The 67-page document reportedly outlines a number of rules put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, including a strict ban on fighting and restrictions against any form of contact between players, such as high-fives and fist bumps. Spitting would be prohibited, meaning players wouldn’t be able to chew on sunflower seeds in the dugout. Players would also be told to shower at home after games rather than in the clubhouse.

Under the plan, the MLB season would kick off with an abbreviated spring training starting in mid-June, with teams either playing at their home ballparks or at their normal spring training sites in Arizona or Florida. The season, shortened to 82 games, would be able to start the first week in July.

The report added that the league would conduct 10,000 coronavirus tests each week — for more than just players.

“The proposal obtained by USA TODAY Sports, which was first reported by The Athletic, calls for daily multiple temperature screenings, including at home and on the road, before team members even coming to the stadium,” the report noted. “There will be multiple COIVD-19 tests during the week given to the players, and even family members. The league will also offer free diagnostic and antibody/serology testing for healthcare workers or other first responders.”

There had been a number of proposals floated to allow the baseball season to start, including a plan for all teams to stay together in either Arizona or Florida and play games in spring training facilities. But more recent proposals have called for something closer to a normal season, with teams playing in home ballparks — though without any fans in the stands.

There could be other roadblocks to starting the season beyond measures to prevent coronavirus infections. As The Inquisitr reported, the players’ union has requested to see financial documents from owners before agreeing to a deal for player compensation. MLB had asked the union to agree to an equal revenue-sharing split, which would be a deeper cut than the one players initially agreed to that would have reduced salaries across the board.