Photo Credit: LA Times

MLB Spring Training 2.0 Reveals a Long and Complicated Journey



MLB’s Spring Training 2.0 is upon us, and players will be once again taking the field in their home cities. This will be a reset of sorts, and another new beginning for fans–as the teams they love start to take shape once again. The beauty of spring training is that it gives a glimpse of the potential greatness that may be just months away or seasons ahead. This, however, will only intensify the uncertainty around the league going forward.


Photo Credit: Washington Post

Baseball is in a unique situation. Thanks to COVID-19, there is no sure way to predict the outcome of this season. With it being shortened to 60-games, the dynamic of a team getting hot just at the right time will guarantee a spot in the postseason. No longer can a team take their time to develop. As a team, they now have to bust out of the gates firing on all cylinders.

The excitement of the season’s restart is felt all around, from the players and the fans alike, and thankfully Rob Manfred enforced the return to play right at the witching hour. Everyone knew the damage it would have caused if there was no baseball in 2020. What started as a shut down of everything quickly turned into a war between players and the organizations. The back and forth could be compared to the 1994 strike.


While it didn’t get that far, it certainly has already done some damage from a public image standpoint.


While some fans (especially on twitter) are saying things like, “Lets’s go! “or  Baseball is finally back!” there are quite a few people on the opposite end who simply shrugged to the news. Honestly, you can’t blame them for feeling that way. Somewhere in the middle, a lot of us are wondering what exactly will we be getting back. It won’t be the baseball we know and love.

There are still many things that need to be worked out for everything to run smoothly. The realization that every player is at risk for COVID-19 puts MLB in a very “rock and a hard place” type of situation. Yes, it is great to move on from the constant stalemates of negotiations and have some action done for a change. But at what cost? The health and safety of everyone involved to make baseball start again is a more severe issue than money.


While baseball was finalizing the deals of its return, the announcement came in an ironic fashion. 


Photo Credit: Travel Channel

Jeff Passan broke the news that three players in The Colorado Rockies’ organization tested positive for the coronavirus. The players were all-star outfielder Charlie Blackmon, Phillip Diehl, and Ryan Castellani. Out of the three players, two were asymptomatic, and only one showed symptoms.

CNN reported that the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, and Boston Red Sox have all had players test positive for the virus, many being asymptomatic as well. Bob Nightengale reported last week before all the deals were laid out, that 40 players and staff had tested positive for the virus, causing teams to shut down their training facilities in Florida and Arizona as a precaution. The league then ordered all facilities to undergo a deep cleaning.

With the fear of COVID-19 rising in the United States once again, it’s no wonder MLB’s 100-page manual, obtained by USA TODAY, is quite extensive. It lays out the groundwork for one very complicated and worrisome season.


This breakdown of the manual has certainly made me rethink my opinion on the return of baseball. Here are some of the key reasons why:


  • All players will be tested upon return, and while waiting for the results, they must quarantine for 24 to 48 hours. While sitting around during quarantine, they’ll be required to complete COVID-19 educational courses before they can begin workouts.
  • Players won’t have the same lockers and might not even be in the same locker room. All lockers must be six feet apart, meaning some will be in the home clubhouse, some in the visitor’s clubhouse, some in the umpires’ clubhouse, and others in the stadium worker’s cafeteria.
  • Spring Training will be divided into three phases starting with individual and small groups, full-team workouts, and no more than three spring-training games.
  • Players will be prohibited from entering the stadium if their temperature is above 100.4 and will have their temperature checked at least twice per day. They will have a saliva test every other day and an antibody test once per month.
  • There will be no lounging in the clubhouse. Players can’t arrive earlier than five hours before game time and must leave 90 minutes after the game ends. There are only prepackaged foods, no buffets, and no showers.
  • When the game starts, not all can sit in the dugout; some will have to sit in the stands. 
  • No spitting, no tobacco, no sunflower seeds. The positive side? They can chew gum.
  • Pitchers aren’t allowed to lick their fingers. Instead, they can carry a wet rag in their pocket.
  • No celebrations whatsoever. Instead, just constant hand washing.


Photo Credit: Sportsnaut

The operation manual covers everything, and in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 in a city, MLB has the right to shift games to neutral sites for the regular season and postseason.

The question one has to ask is, “Is the risk worth the reward?” For a player to go through all these procedures, proves that they’re doing it for the love of the game. I still can’t imagine watching a walk-off home run and no one crowding at home plate. Instead, a trip around the bases, a shrug, and a beeline to the closest sink to wash their hands. What if this is still going on in September? To think of a World Series with an empty ballpark is a sad reality. 

You also have to wonder… years from now, how will we look back on the 2020 season and the team that wins the World Series? Will there be an asterisk by the year? What if a team comes down with the virus? Are they eliminated from contention? 


I am excited to see the return of baseball, but my heart goes out to the players. The year 2020 sure has been exhausting. The world is being attacked on all fronts, and we are still in the thick of it. Let’s hope we can finally get a base hit against this damn year, as we are currently in jeopardy of losing this series. 

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-Joshua Rushford – Franchise Sports Media

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