With a reported hope of beginning Spring Training 2.0 in early June, Major League Baseball and the Players Association face a deadline of sorts to come to an agreement on multiple issues.
They remain at odds over an economic plan for the 2020 regular season, and the two sides have yet to come to terms on health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
MLB submitted a 67-page document to the union last week, which called for the elimination of high fives, spitting, and showering at stadiums before and after games, among other changes that would require players to break from long-set routines.
The MLBPA has since responded to the guidelines, addressing a variety of topics, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
The union’s health response covered testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel, protections for high-risk players and family, access to pregame and postgame therapies, and sanitization protocols.
Multiple reports have indicated the MLBPA would provide some pushback on restrictions against showering and using saunas and other therapy means. Of course, ensuring player safety is also at the top of the list.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark previously said players would not take the field unless widespread testing and a vaccine were available.
As for players needing to reduce — if not eliminate — interaction, several Los Angeles Dodgers teammates voiced some disappointment about the likelihood on this week’s Zoom party.
“I just hope they can figure out a way where we can at least elbow dab or something. I need some encouragement from the guys. Everybody knows I like to get a firm fist-bump, so I need something,” Clayton Kershaw said.
“I think I could maybe do away with spitting, but I think most guys would say they couldn’t do that. We’re going to need to figure it out.”
Justin Turner added: “It’s tough, because there’s so many little nuances in the game of baseball. I think teammates enjoy celebrating during the game and a lot of that is by high-fiving or a nice pat on the butt when a guy walks by and you say, ‘Nice play.’
“To not have that anymore, there’s going to have to be new creative ways to celebrate those moments. One thing about baseball that’s cool is the pregame handshakes. We’re going to have to do something else for that, too.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!