Major League Baseball officially announced new rules and protocols for its 2020 season, which is slated to begin on July 23 and run for 60 games per team following a four-month delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They include a universal designated hitter, a three-batter minimum rule for all pitchers barring injury or illness, and a new extra-innings provision with teams starting with a runner on second base.
Social distancing will be strictly enforced on the field of play, and spitting is banned. Players and managers are subject to "immediate ejection and discipline" if they argue or have an altercation with umpires or the opposing team.
Physical distancing when feasible will also occur. Of note, base coaches are not allowed leave their coaches' boxes, and opponents can't socialize or fraternize during games. Teams must also create additional clubhouse and dugout space to help people maintain social distancing guidelines.
Furthermore, lineup cards will not be exchanged before games.
Teams will start the year with a 30-man roster that will be cut down to 28 after the 15th day of the regular season and 26 following the 29th day. Expanded rosters in September will not occur this year.
Franchises are allowed to carry up to three "taxi squad" members with them for all road trips, but those players will not be in uniform on game day unless they have to replace someone on the active roster.
August 31 will be this year's MLB trade deadline date, and September 15 is the playoff eligibility date. Injured list stints will be for 10 or 45 days (as opposed to 10 or 60), and there will also be a COVID-19 list as well for those who test positive.
The schedule will be geographically based, with teams playing 40 games against division rivals and 20 matchups versus their regional rivals in the other league.
For example, the New York Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles 10 games apiece and face off against the National League East's Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals a total of 20 times.
The Yanks and defending World Series champion Nats will reportedly kick off the season on July 23 in Washington, D.C., per Joel Sherman and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.