PHOENIX – Batter up. Mask up.
Despite an offseason that suggested a delay to the start of spring training, Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Tuesday, with games kicking off on Feb. 27.
Arizona is home to 10 stadiums where 15 Cactus League teams prepare for the regular season each year. MLB’s Players Association recently rejected a proposal by the league to postpone the start of spring ball because of COVID-19 concerns.
What will it look like?
Major League Baseball has not announced a blanket policy because many of the decisions will be determined by individual municipalities. Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher said in a statement that cities “are working with stakeholders to finalize preparations for opening spring training camps. We expect to announce details soon.”
Although few teams have released specific details of attendance plans, most are expected to follow guidelines similar to the ones the City of Tempe announced recently. Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring home of the Los Angeles Angels, will open at 25% capacity. This would allow 1,800 to 2,000 guests to attend the games.
These rules are also included:
- Face coverings must be worn at all times inside the stadium, except while eating and drinking.
- There will be a no-bag policy to allow for a quick and no-touch check-in.
- Seats will be appropriately spaced, with lawn seats marked in pods for physical distancing.
Some ballparks have said they will have apps available for fans to order wrapped food from their seats.
Ticket information is slowly trickling in. The San Francisco Giants said in a statement that it will sell between 750-1,000 tickets for each game played at Scottsdale Stadium, which has a capacity of 12,000 fans.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs say they have received the OK from the City of Mesa, Maricopa County and the state to operate at 25% capacity for all games to be held at Sloan Park
The Arizona Diamondbacks have yet to release ticket information and said on their website, “Due to further review regarding Spring Training details, the D-backs and Rockies will be temporarily postponing ticket sales to Spring Training games. We will alert fans with information about a new on-sale date when it is available.”
Meanwhile, players and team personnel will be required to adhere to new rules set by MLB, which released its health and safety protocols for the 2021 season.
Players will be required to wear face coverings at all times, with the only exception for players on the field or during pregame warmups.
Additionally, mandatory five-day at-home quarantine before reporting to spring training is expected, and players and other on-field personnel will continue to be tested at least every other day throughout the spring.