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MLB outlines health and safety plan to players’ union


Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association are engaged in talks on a potential plan to start the 2020 season. The two big issues on the table are pay and safety. We now have some clarity on what the plan entails for the latter issue.

The Carpenter Complex is the home of Phillies spring training. (Cheryl Pursell)

According to a report from Jerad Diamond and Louise Radnofsky of the Wall Street Journal, the league outlined a health and safety plan to the union through videoconferencing on Tuesday. By the end of this week, a 100-page document will be delivered to the MLBPA with full details of the plan.

In the plan, all personnel, including players, coaches and staffers, are subjected to multiple coronavirus tests a week. According to a source, testing would occur “more often than weekly, but less than daily.” MLB believes these tests can be obtained without taking away tests from frontline workers and members of the general public.

The tests yield results within 24 hours. Baseball officials believe that one positive test would not shut down the league. The league will have access to a limited supply of rapid test but those tests will only be in use for those who show symptoms or were in contact with someone who tested positive as the availability of those tests are limited. Frequent temperature checks will also occur.

The plan does not call for players to be quarantined away from their families in a controlled environment such as a hotel. According to Diamond and Radnofsky, players, coaches and other personnel are expected to limit contact with others away from the field and practice social distancing while inside the ballpark. That could mean rearranged clubhouses and relief pitchers sitting in the stands when they are not warming up. Spitting, high-fives and mound visits could be banned. For players and staff who are more at risk for dealing with severe symptoms when contracting the disease, the league is discussing plans to allow for that group to have the choice to sit out the season.

Both the league and the union are on the same page when it comes to this: it’s impossible to play baseball this season without some risk. Health and safety plans are meant to minimize the level of risk so that it is as close to zero as it can be. In the coming days, we will get a better sense as to whether or not players believe the league’s plan for health and safety is viable.

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