M.L.B. Tightens Virus Protocols Again in Wake of Outbreaks


“We’ve basically been wearing masks all the time anyway,” Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steven Brault said Thursday. “This will just add a little bit more, but it’s really not going to change much. You’re still not wearing it out on the field. As long as it doesn’t have any effect on performance, which it obviously won’t, then it doesn’t really matter.

“It’s a simple thing: put a mask on. It’s not that hard.”

Teams must provide outdoor, covered spaces for social distancing during rain delays, the memo said, and at least four buses for traveling to and from the hotel and ballpark, with nobody sitting in adjoining seats and an unoccupied row left between any passengers. Masks can be removed to eat or drink, of course, but the memo prohibits conversation while eating and drinking, and mandates that only one person per row be eating or drinking at the same time.

The league will also try to restrict players’ activities away from the ballpark, requiring them to get permission from their team’s compliance officer if they want to leave the hotel for any reason. At home, the memo said, players and staff “are prohibited from visiting bars, lounges, malls, or other places in which larger groups of people gather.”

The memo said that the league’s contracted security officers will be at the team hotels for 16 hours each day, and monitor both clubhouses, in addition to their role as monitors of the video rooms. It added that those who “repeatedly or flagrantly” violate the protocols will — after a warning — risk their ability to further participate in this season.

“I’m OK with the rules — whatever helps us play the game,” Marlins reliever Brandon Kintzler said on Thursday. “If you want to play, this is unfortunately how you’ve got to do it. If you don’t want to play, then don’t go by the rules and just go home. This is just the way the world is right now, this is how the sports world is, and I’m sure the N.F.L. is going to deal with something very similar if they want to get it in.

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