MLB announces shortened games, rule modifications for spring training originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Ahead of the official start of the 2021 Spring Training schedule on Sunday, Major League Baseball outlined its on-field protocols and modifications to spring training games.
In a statement released on Friday, the league announced that Cactus and Grapefruit League games will feature shortened games and relaxed rules as mutually determined by managers.
"Spring Training games through Saturday, March 13th may be shortened to five-inning games or seven-inning games upon mutual agreement of both managers. Games that occur from Sunday, March 14th until the end of Spring Training on Tuesday, March 30th may be shortened to seven-inning games," the league's statement said.
In addition to the modified length of games, pitchers who are removed during a game are allowed to re-enter at a later point and that all spring training contests, regardless of length, can end in a tie after the schedule length of the game has been played, according to the statement.
Official rules for retiring the side and the three batter minimum will also be relaxed until March 14th.
"For Spring Training game through Saturday, March 13th, Official Baseball Rule 5.09(e) will be relaxed, allowing defensive managers to end an inning prior to three outs following any completed plate appearance, provided the pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches."
"Additionally, starting on Sunday, March 14th and continuing through the end of the 2021 regular season, Official Baseball Rule 5.10 (Three Batter Minimum) will be enforced."
2021 Spring Training will begin on Sunday, February 28th, giving teams roughly three weeks to prepare for the regular season which is set to begin on April 1st with all 30 teams scheduled to play on Opening Day.