With players now reporting to their teams' home cities in preparation for resuming spring training and preparing for the season, Major League Baseball has released rule changes along with on-field and off-field health and safety protocols as it tries to operate during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The official report date for the three-week spring training, which MLB is calling "Summer Camp," with Camping World paying a sponsorship fee, is Wednesday. Teams will begin regular workouts Friday in preparation for the season opening on July 23-24.
All players and staff will be required to undergo medical testing and screening before entering the franchise facilities.
The extensive operations manual has been sent to teams, players and staff. But MLB highlighted some of the most distinct changes and safety procedures, including a universal designated hitter, a tie-breaker rule for extra innings and three-batter minimum rule for pitchers. They include:
ON-FIELD RULE CHANGES
National League games will include the use of the designated hitter for the first time in history.
Each extra inning will begin with a runner on second base.
The batter (or a substitute for the batter) who leads off an inning shall continue to be the batter who would lead off the inning in the absence of this extra-innings rule.
The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning's leadoff hitter. By way of example, if the number five hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number four player in the batting order (or a pinchrunner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. However, if the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning's leadoff hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base at the start of that half-inning may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order.
For purposes of calculating earned runs, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team.