MLB Players Seeking Clarity, Tweaks To League’s New Health Guidelines

Major League Baseball has released new health guidelines in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But some players are pushing back just a tad.

Among the league’s new health protocols include restrictions on spitting sunflower seeds or tobacco on the field, contact with other players (including hugs, hi-fives and fist bumps) and the use of certain in-park facilities like showers and batting cages. Balls used during games would be immediately discarded after being touched, line up cards will no longer be exchanged between teams and masks must be worn unless players are engaging in “strenuous” activities on the field.

These are just some of the new guidelines put forth by MLB ahead of an abbreviated 2020 season. And now, some players worry about potential unintended consequences that could result.

“Just the things inside the clubhouse we’d like to see intact as much as possible,” St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong told USA Today Sports this week. “… Not being in the indoor (batting) cage, using batting gloves, the sunflower seeds and spitting thing. What if I got dirt in my mouth? They’re silly but I understand where (these questions) are coming from.”

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“Not getting to use any of the facilities that help recover our bodies is going to be a problem,” Miami Marlins pitcher Brandon Kintzler said, via ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

One anonymous player asked perhaps the biggest question of all.

“If we all test negative, why do we have to use separate baseballs?” he told Rogers.

One expert, however, noted nothing is guaranteed.

“Somebody could still be infected, even if everyone has tested negative,” infectious disease dynamics expert Jessica Metcalf of Princeton University told ESPN in an email. “One infected person could result in many new cases. There have been many ‘superspreading events’ associated with this infection to date.”

The proposal certainly isn’t perfect, but DeJong (who happens to be a biochemistry major) isn’t worried about that hindering the season.

“There were a lot of good ideas,” he said. “There were a lot of rules and infrastructure to get in place and enforce. … We’ll find the right mix. We can pull this off.”

Fingers crossed.

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