MLB - League proposes rigorous testing among guidelines for return

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Nationals Park is seen after MLB owners reportedly approved a plan for a coronavirus-delayed baseball season in Washington

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Players may have to skip the showers and spitting will not be allowed under guidelines proposed by Major League Baseball to bring America's pastime back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB presented health and safety protocols to its players' union, the Athletic reported on Saturday, as a set of potential guidelines for the 2020 season, which has been on hold since March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As many as 10,000 coronavirus tests would be conducted per week for participants in games, according to the report, with spitting and fistbumps prohibited, and hand sanitizing required every half-inning.

Other potential rules include swapping out baseballs after they have been touched by more than one person, the report said.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the vast majority of testing would be done through saliva, as opposed to nasal swab procedures, and that multiple tests would be administered each week for both players and staff.

There will also be limits on who is allowed to sit in the dugout during games, in order to help maintain social distancing, with inactive players sitting in stands and elsewhere, six feet apart, inside otherwise empty stadiums.

The logistics of bringing back baseball, potentially as early as July, have been a topic of fierce debate among players, owners and the league.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell balked at a proposed 50-50 revenue split between the league and players earlier this week, which would diminish player salaries.

Former Yankee slugger and 14-times all-star Alex Rodriguez called on Friday for owners and players to unite on the issue in an impassioned plea on social media.

"This is like beyond anything we've ever seen before. I just urge the players and the owners to think collectively," said the three-times American League MVP. "If there's $100 in the pie, like the NBA, players take $50, owners take $50."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis)