• Steve Potter

3/30/21 : Covid Rules for Minor Leagues


Similar to Major League spring training MLB has issued guidelines to insure against the spread of the virus for the minor league version of camp.

The operations manual for the Minor Leagues includes Covid protocols for Spring Training as well as the upcoming season. Thanks to an article from JJ Cooper in Baseball America here are a few of the highlights. The restrictions are expected to be strictly enforced.

For Spring Training there is a limit of 215 “covered individuals”. These folks are expected to quarantine prior to taking part in spring training and will be subject to regular testing and be monitored on a daily basis.

“Covered individuals” counts players, managers, coaches, bullpen catchers, athletic trainers, physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, clubhouse staff, facility compliance officers and traveling staff. It does not include rehabbing major league players or roving coaches, the policy for rovers is still being established. During the regular season the limit will increase to 245 folks.

These folks will be sequestered from contact with the general public as much as possible and will be the ones who will receive intake testing as well as close monitoring for coronavirus throughout the season.

The covered group will have significant restrictions on what they are allowed to do.

Teams must set up schedules to ensure that players can dress and get ready at staggered times to limit the amount of people in an indoor space.

There is a suggestion that players, staff and umpires dress at home or at their hotel and arrive in uniform to limit the amount of time they spend inside.

Covered individuals will be prohibited from any indoor gathering of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants or dining areas, bars or lounges, gyms, sports clubs, spas or pool areas not affiliated with or approved by MLB or the team.

..........

For the regular season :

Broadcasters will not be permitted to be part of the travel group and will not be allowed to be in close physical proximity to any of the covered individuals. Those restrictions will also apply to other media members. This also applies to spring training.

Triple-A and Double-A teams are limited to 44 covered individuals. High-A and Low-A are limited to 46.

There will be a Covid-19 related injury list. Players on that list will not count toward a club’s active list limit or its reserve list limit. They also will not count as one of the covered individuals until they return to team facilities.

Minor league teams are also being asked to set up outdoor areas separate from the general public for the variety of functions teams do at the facility such as eating, meetings and even waiting out rain delays.

Players who are not scheduled to play that night are recommended to leave the stadium before that night’s game.

Charting in the stands is to be discouraged if not prohibited under the guidelines.The dugout is expected to be limited to players and staff likely to participate in that day’s game. Other players are expected to be seated in auxiliary seating areas where they can be socially distanced from each other and from the public.

Sunflower seeds are prohibited. Communal video terminals are also prohibited.

Teams will be allowed to open their clubhouses to players and staff 5 hours before game time, but if violations of any minimum standards occur that team will be required to not open the clubhouse until 3 hours before game time.

On the road, covered individuals (any players and staff who are part of the travel party) will not be allowed to congregate in any public areas of the hotel at which they are staying and are prohibited from visiting the hotel rooms of any other individuals on their team without prior approval of the club’s Covid compliance officer.

Similarly, any player or staff member must receive prior approval from the compliance officer before they can leave the hotel for any reason. The compliance officer will tell the player or staff member whether the trip falls within permitted activities.

Personal trainers are not allowed to be invited into the covered individuals’ home or to visit them on the road.

Live entertainment venues—including music or dance clubs, indoor movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, casinos or pool halls—are prohibited.

The Manual further spells out that covered individuals are not permitted to leave the hotel on road trips other than for a specified list of activities: team activities at the team facility or ballpark, medical reasons, travel with the team, outdoor walks/exercise, eating outdoors or other low-risk outdoor activities or under extraordinary circumstances. It is suggested that golf is an example of a low-risk activity, as long as the facility is within walking distance or can be accessed by club approved transportation.

There will not be batboys or batgirls under the coronavirus protocols. Those duties will have to be handled by club staff and can not be handled by any minors.

The protocols also say that players and coaches should not touch their face as part of conveying signs. Spitting is also prohibited.

Teams should attempt to charter flights instead of using commercial airlines, if possible. On road trips teams should give each player an individual room, if possible, or assign each individual the same roommate for each trip.

There is some hope among minor league operators that these restrictions may be able to be eased as vaccination rates increase.

Long story short is if you’re a fan of family member there’s no point in coming to minor league spring training. The complex will be closed to the public and it’s not likely that games in the stadium will be open for view for those not included in the bubble.

Is what it is ... this is a mandate from MLB and not open to any team’s discretion. It’s an uniform policy.

Till we get past the virus ...

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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