Gearing Up for Another COVID Season in MLB


DETROIT, MI – JULY 01: A detailed view of an official Major League Baseball with a surgical mask placed on it sitting outdie of Comerica Park on July 1, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The 2021 MLB season is almost upon us and Spring Training is right around the corner. All thirty teams are gearing up towards another COVID season. Even though there are vaccines and teams have experience while dealing with the pandemic, there are still health and safety protocols all teams must follow. Although this season can be generally different from the previous one, the protocols are still the same with some changes mixed in.

Both the MLB and the MLB Players Association have recently come up with safe and helpful protocols to hopefully reduce the spread of COVID-19 within MLB organizations. Some are the same as last year but cannot be disregarded. All teams must have frequent or daily PCR testing. The testing will be almost every other day leading up to Spring Training, the regular season, and even the postseason. Daily temperature checks and symptom screenings will also be implemented. For a player who tests positive for COVID-19, that player must isolate themselves for at least ten days.

Since this season will have a “normal” feel to it with the start of Spring Training that is just a few weeks away, players will have to adhere to the protocols. During the entire 2021 season, players cannot attend gatherings of more than ten people, indoor restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness and wellness centers, entertainment venues, gaming venues or any other activity that is prohibited in the given state or local government. On road trips, the players are not allowed to leave the hotel other than for team related activities. Any individual player or staff who has violated any of the health and safety protocols are subjected to internal discipline within their respected organization. Suspensions and the forfeiture of salary on days  spent in isolation due to the health and safety protocol violation are the main punishments.

The MLB has also changed its ways for dealing with close contacts. According to, an individual who has been identified as a close contact must quarantine for at least seven days and must test negative on day five or later or be symptom free to proceed with the day-to-day activities within the organization. There is also additional monitoring of players who are not deemed close contacts as well. Similar with the updated health and safety protocols of the NFL and NBA, the MLB has stated that face coverings will be worn at all times in the facilities and in the dugout. Each team will appoint a Facemask Enforcement Officer and fines will be given out to players who do not comply.

As far as the actual game itself is concerned and similar to last season, double-headers played will consist of two seven-inning games. The new extra-inning rule that was implemented last season will also feature this season. This change was that each extra half-inning will feature an automatic runner on second base. In terms of roster size, the active roster limit will be 26 players while expanding to 28 in September. Even though there are many other protocols to address, these rules are the most notable and more concerning towards the MLB players and staff. Hopefully the season will go on as planned and hopefully there will be less outbreaks within MLB organizations due to these updated and more strict health and safety protocols.