May 18, 2020 10:54 AM

New MLB rules: shower at home, don't spit, Mr Met stay away

Posted May 18, 2020 10:54 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball will look somewhat like high school ball this year under protocols to deal with the new coronavirus, with showers at ballparks discouraged and players possibly arriving in uniform, like they did when they were teenagers.

Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips.

Even the Phillie Phantic and Mr. Met will be missing, banned from the field along with all other team mascots.

The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps, and bat boys and girls, according to a 67-page draft of Major League Baseball’s proposed 2020 Operations Manual. A copy was sent to teams Friday and obtained by The Associated Press. The guidelines, first reported by The Athletic, are subject to negotiation with the players’ association.

Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still be negotiated.

Spitting is prohibited along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers. Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged, batting gloves encouraged.

Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they’re not allowed to lick their fingers. Teams are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, players spread apart.

Teams were asked to respond with their suggested input by May 22. The protocols were written by MLB senior vice presidents Patrick Houlihan, Bryan Seeley and Chris Young, and vice president Jon Coyles. Young is a former pitcher who retired after the 2017 season.

Protocols include details on testing for team staff, who are divided into three tiers. All others may not enter clubhouses, dugouts and the field.

Seats in the empty stands near the dugout should be used to maintain distance, according to diagrams in the manual, and the next day’s starting pitcher can’t sit in the dugout. Everyone must keep their distance during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America,”

Fielders are “encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner” between pitches. First and third base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires, and players should not socialize with opponents.

Managers and coaches must wear masks while in the dugouts. The entire traveling party -- including players -- must wear personal protective equipment while on buses and flights. Restaurants are off limits on the road, including the ones in hotels, as are hotel fitness centers.

“We emphasize that this is a first draft, and will undergo several rounds of changes as we collect comments and suggestions from the clubs, the players’ association, players, and government officials,” deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote in an email to owners, team presidents and CEOs, and general managers that accompanied the protocols.

“The document is designed to set minimum standards and identify best practices, but we have attempted to provide clubs with enough flexibility to achieve the desired health and safety objectives in a manner that is tailored to their particular circumstances, including ballpark configuration, location, and the nature of any local governmental regulations or restrictions,” Halem wrote.

Scoreboard video is prohibited but music allowed. While there won’t be fans, at least not at the start, it will provide a familiar background audio for the telecasts critical to MLB’s bottom line.

A ball will be thrown away after it is touched by multiple players, and throwing the ball around the infield will be discouraged. Personnel who rub baseballs with mud for the umpires must use gloves.

“Individuals must avoid any physical interactions (such as high-fives, fist bumps, or hugs) while at club facilities,” the manual says.

Tier 1 people in the plan include players, managers and coaches plus two each from among physicians, athletics trainers and bullpen catchers plus one strength and conditioning coach.

Tier 2 includes clubhouse staff, additional coaches, medical and training staff, traveling staff, owners, front office, translators, communications staff, video personnel, the head groundskeeper and security plus players’ union and MLB staff along with contractors.

Tier 3 covers broadcast personnel and other event services.

Players must wear masks while in restricted areas “except while on the field or engaging in other strenuous activities” and lockers must have at least 6 feet between them. If needed, temporary clubhouse space will be added, preferably outdoors or areas with better ventilation.

“Showering in club facilities should be discouraged,” the plan says. “To the extent showering occurs, clubs should explore modifications to facilities to allow for physical distancing and hygiene” such as installing partitions and limiting the number of players using the showers at the same time.

Teams “should consider requiring (on-field staff) to arrive at club facilities dressed for the day’s activities in order to limit time spent in the clubhouse or locker room.”

Only medical personnel allowed near injured players.

There will be staggered reporting dates for the resumption of spring training. When pitchers and catchers arrive, only five players may work out at a time. Then come full team workouts, with small groups encouraged but not required, followed by exhibition games. There will be intake screening upon arrival followed a self-quarantine for 24-48 hours until results are available. Players not assigned to big league team when the season starts will remain at spring training or another separate facility.

All games at spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona, whether exhibition or regular season, must be scheduled for 7-9 p.m. local time unless MLB gives specific consent.

A fifth umpire would be allowed when the temperature reaches a certain level, allowing for rotation, including sharing of plate umpire duties, Teams should take batting practice on back fields.

Among the road trip changes:

—Use of Uber, subways and public buses is banned.

—Private airports encouraged and if not available, teams are to use private aviation facilities to board and exit.

—Transportation Security Administration screen should take place at ballparks if it can be arranged.

—In-flight catering is limited.

—Lower floors are to be used if possible at hotels, so stairs can be used instead of elevators, and private areas arranged for entrances, exits and check-in.

—Six staggered bus trips will be scheduled to and from the ballpark.

Team staff, including players, will be given thermometers for self screening and are to take two tests in quick succession each morning.

At the ballpark, people will be given temperature checks twice a day and multiple fluid swabs each week. Comprehensive Drug Testing will collect samples and Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City is to provide results within 24 hours.

Family members of players, umpires and the households of anyone covered under the plan will be offered access to testing and PPE. The individuals are encouraged to avoid crowd when away from ballpark.

Anyone with a temperature of 100 or higher or who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or has come in contact with someone confirmed to be infected will be subject to rapid testing at a nearby site. A person cannot rejoin the team until testing negative twice in tests taken at least 24 hours apart. The person also must not exhibit symptoms or COVID-19, and the team physician and MLB medical staff must determine the person not at risk.

If an individual is exposed to a person with an infection, that person must show no signs of disease, be tested daily for at least seven consecutive days and undergo more frequent temperature checks. The person also must wear a mask at all times except while on the field.

Each spring training and regular season ballpark must have dedicated testing and isolation areas. MLB also will offer testing of people who live in same household as covered individuals and to health care workers/first responders in big league cities.

Most tests will take saliva but there may be oral or nasal swabs. Blood samples will be collected less frequently for serology testing used to detect antibodies.

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May 18, 2020 10:54 AM
Sunday Sports Headlines

Update on the latest in sports:

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS

AP Exclusive: MLB projects $640K per game loss with no fans

UNDATED (AP) — Major League Baseball owners have made their pitch as they try to convince players to accept less pay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB has told players their prorated salaries would contribute to an average loss of $640,000 for each game over an 82-game season in empty ballparks. That's according to a presentation from the commissioner's office to the union that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The 12-page document was dated May 12 and paints a grim picture of a $10 billion industry shuttered by the pandemic. It was an initial step in negotiations aimed at starting the delayed season around the Fourth of July.

Some players have publicly balked at the notion of less pay, and the union has called for more transparency in baseball's financial records.

Teams say the proposed method of salvaging a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic would still cause a $4 billion loss and would give major league players 89% of revenue. The Yankees would have the highest loss at $312 million.

Teams contend they lose more money with each additional game played. The players' union, however, believes clubs would lose less money with more games. In addition, many teams and/or their owners have stakes in their regional sports network that would benefit from additional games.

Owners voted Monday to propose salaries be based on a 50-50 split of revenue, a framework players say is tantamount to the kind of salary cap they'll never accept. Teams gave the players' association their virus-testing plan Friday and have waited to make their economic proposal.

Meanwhile, MLB has created a 67-page draft of its proposed 2020 Operations Manual, which has been obtained by The Associated Press and was first reported by The Athletic.

Among the routine changes include players possibly arriving in uniform and being discouraged to take showers at ballparks. Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips, and mascots like the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met would be prohibited from the ballparks. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps, bat boys and bat girls.

Spitting is prohibited along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers. Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged, batting gloves encouraged.

Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they're not allowed to lick their fingers. Teams are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, players spread apart.

Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still be negotiated.

In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:

— Former Washington Redskins star Dexter Manley is hospitalized and receiving oxygen to treat breathing issues related to the coronavirus. Two of his children told The Washington Post the 61-year-old Manley was hospitalized Friday in the Washington area. Daughter Dalis Manley said the former defensive end tested positive for the coronavirus May 2 and has steadily run a temperature between 101 and 104 degrees. Manley helped Washington win two Super Bowl titles in nine seasons with the team.

— The 145th Preakness Stakes has been rescheduled for Oct. 3. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan disclosed the new date for the Preakness on NBC, which also had a hand in the decision because it televises the race. Saturday's announcement was delivered less than hour before the original post time for the Triple Crown race.

— Live golf returns to television Sunday with a four-man charity Skins game at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, to benefit coronavirus relief. There won't be any caddies, so Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will be carrying their own bags. The only rake will be carried by a rules official. Another rules official will be the only person to handle the flagstick, if necessary. It will be the first live action on TV since the opening round of The Players Championship on March 12.

— New York will allow horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen International car track to reopen with the easing of the coronavirus outbreak. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday was quick to add a caveat: "No crowds. No fans." At his daily briefing, the Democrat says he could envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, also without fans, adding: "If it works economically, that would be great."

— Germany's Bundesliga (BOON'-dehsh-lee-guh) resumed its soccer season resumed Saturday after a two-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Borussia Dortmund defeated Schalke 4-0 in the first Ruhr derby (DAHR'-bee) to be played in an empty stadium. Also, Hertha Berlin won 3-0 at Hoffenheim, Freiburg drew at Leipzig 1-1, Paderborn drew at Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0, and Wolfsburg won 2-1 at Augsburg. They were the first games to be played in the league since March 11.

— The head of the World Health Organization said Saturday it will not be easy to make next year's Tokyo Olympics a safe global gathering after the pandemic. The WHO's director general called for "national unity and global solidarity" to fight the coronavirus outbreak ahead of the Olympics. The Summer Games were postponed this year and should bring athletes from more than 200 countries to Japan. The opening ceremony is now due on July 23, 2021.

NFL-NEWS

Giants cornerback sought by police turns himself in

UNDATED (AP) — New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker has turned himself in to police in Broward County, Florida.

Baker has been charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. His lawyer, Bradford Cohen, says he has affidavits that will prove Baker's innocence.

Baker had been sought by police since Thursday, along with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar. Warrants were issued for both men after multiple witnesses accused them of an armed robbery at a party Wednesday night in Miramar, Florida.

Dunbar had not surrendered to police as of Saturday afternoon.

In other NFL news:

— Redskins receiver Cody Latimer is facing five charges, including felony illegal discharge of a firearm, following his arrest in a Denver suburb Saturday morning. The Douglas County sheriff's office says deputies arrested the 27-year-old after responding to a report of shots fired inside an apartment in Englewood, Colorado. Deputies say they found three individuals in the apartment, one with minor injuries unrelated to a gunshot. Latimer came to the Redskins from the Giants after starting 10 of his 15 games last season, catching 24 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

— The Rams have re-signed defensive end Morgan Fox and released defensive tackle Tanzel Smart. The team didn't disclose the terms of its new deal with Fox, who has been a depth contributor on the Rams' defensive line since 2016. He signed with Los Angeles as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State-Pueblo.

— Former Chicago Bears CEO Michael McCaskey has died after a lengthy battle with cancer at 76, according to the team. McCaskey assumed operational control of the franchise in 1983 as president and CEO following the death of George Halas, a founding father of the NFL and the franchise. Michael McCaskey became chairman in 1999 and remained in that role until George McCaskey took over in 2011.

— Former NFL studio host Phyllis George has died at 70 following a long fight with a blood disorder. The 1971 Miss America became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS's "The NFL Today." George got into television in 1974 at CBS on "Candid Camera" and joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on "The NFL Today."

NASCAR-BOWMAN EXTENSION

Alex Bowman signs 1-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Alex Bowman has signed a one-year contract extension to remain with Hendrick Motorsports through 2021.

The announcement Saturday came the day before NASCAR resumes its season at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Bowman goes into the event already qualified for the playoffs as winner at California on March 1, two weeks before the season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bowman is fourth in the Cup standings and in his third full season driving the No. 88 for Hendrick.

PGA-OBIT-GONZALEZ

Golfer Ernie Gonzalez dies

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former PGA golfer Ernie Gonzalez has died at 59. The PGA Tour said he died Friday in a Chicago hospital of Alzheimer's.

Gonzalez played 119 events over a four-year span from 1985 through 1988, when he finished 207th on the money list. The Californian's lone victory was in the 1986 Pensacola Open, when he made five birdies and an eagle over his final nine holes of the second round for a 63 and a one-shot lead. The last 36 holes were wiped out because of rain, making Gonzales the victor.

His largest payoff was $48,000 for a tie for third in the Vantage Championship, two weeks after his victory in Pensacola.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-OBIT-HOFFPAUIR

Ex-Stanford two-sport star Zach Hoffpauir dies at 26

UNDATED (AP) — Zach Hoffpauir, a two-sport standout at Stanford who was recently hired to coach safeties on the University of Northern Colorado football team, has died at age 26. The university says he died in his sleep Thursday.

Hoffpauir earned All-Pac 12 honors as a safety in football and played two seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor league system after starring as an outfielder on the Cardinal baseball team.

GOLF-SOUTH KOREA-WOMEN

Park Hyun-kyung wins Korean title in return to live golf

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In a return to official live tournament golf after the coronavirus epidimic, Park Hyun-kung shot a final-round 67 Sunday to win the Korean Ladies Professional Golf tournament by one stroke.

Park had a four-round total of 17-under 271 on the Lakewood Country Club course.

Bae Seon-woo (68) and Lim Hee-jeong (71), who led by three strokes after the third round, were tied for second.

The tournament was played without fans and with players using hand sanitizers and following social-distancing rules. Caddies wore masks and players were allowed to play without them.

On Sunday, when players finished their rounds, most gave each other fist or elbow pumps instead of the usual hugs or hand shakes.