MLB Spring Training to start on time

MLB Spring Training to start on time
Updated technology will help contact tracing. Implemented last year, extra innings with start runner on second base, while doubleheaders will feature seven-inning games. New ball aims to stop the home run surge.

The 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) campaign will officially open next week, as players will start reporting for Spring Training in Florida and Arizona.

MLB and its Players Association (MLBPA) reached an agreement on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Monday, 8 February.

MLB and MLBPA agreed on maintaining a couple of features inaugurated during the 2020 season: runners on second base in extra innings and seven-inning doubleheaders. They could not find common ground on the universal designated hitter. The active roster limit will revert to 26, expanding to 28 in September. Clubs will be able to take five additional players on the road.

MLB will use advanced tecnhnology to conduct contact tracing among players, coaches and staff

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" 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," stated an MLB press release. "The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format."

MLB added: "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."

MLB has reportedly slightly deadened its official balls. According to an Associated Press report, the new balls will fly one to two feet (30.5 to 61 centimetres) shorter when hit over 375 feet (114.3 metres).

The change may cut down on the of home runs. A record 6,776 home runs were hit during the 2019 MLB season, that is to say 6.6% of plate appearances resulted in a home run. The ratio decreased to 6.5% during a 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB's official ball is Rawlings. The baseballs are hand-sewn by workers at a factory in Costa Rica.

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