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MLB Outlaws Spitting, Limits Showering In New Baseball Rules
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 08: A general view of seats in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Feld, home of the Chicago White Sox, on May 08, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The 2020 Major League Baseball season is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Major League Baseball will likely return for a truncated season as early as July, but there will be major changes to how players comport themselves both on and off the field to keep the sport safe from a coronavirus outbreak.

Yahoo News reports that a favorite pastime of players, spitting in the dugout, will be prohibited, and locker rooms will be largely off limits, as players will be asked to shower at home instead of using arena facilities.

The MLB has drafted a 67-page “return to play” handbook for players that outlines the rules for participating in major league play during a pandemic. The rules, which include the aforementioned prohibitions, as well as mandatory temperature checks and social distancing requirements, are part of a package the MLB is sending to the players’ union for approval this week.

“The new restrictions, which have to be approved by the players’ union, would also enforce social distancing, meaning no hugs or high fives after a home run, and a ban on chewing tobacco,” the outlet said Sunday. “Players would go through daily temperature screenings and have to sanitize their hands each half-inning. MLB plans to perform thousands of tests on players, coaches, management and stadium personnel for Covid-19 on a weekly basis.”

Players will also be discouraged from wearing their uniforms outside of ballparks, mascots will be banned from games, there will be no fist-bumps, post-game lineups, or bat boys (or girls). “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,” The Associated Press adds.

When on the road, teams must abide by any local coronavirus-related restrictions and should not eat out at restaurants or use hotel fitness facilities. Managers and coaches must have on face-coverings at all times, and players are encouraged to wear masks when they are off the field.

The rules also affect game play. “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.” Where players can observe social distancing, even on the field, they are required to do so.

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

The MLB is hoping for a return to play the first week of July, with play kept largely regional so that teams don’t move around, spreading any potential illnesses from state to state. So far, there are only proposals, though, and no concrete plans. Some players are resisting a return to work over concerns about contracting the novel coronavirus, and others are still negotiating how much they should earn for a shortened season.

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