MLB's new 2021 COVID-19 protocols are stricter

USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale breaks down the MLB’s new health and safety protocols.

Video Transcript

BOB NIGHTENGALE: Hi. This is Bob Nightengale from USA Today Sports. And this is what I'm hearing.

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Well, Major League Baseball and the Players Association finalized safety and health protocols for the upcoming season. They're going to look a whole lot like last year. Same rules for now, except for the DH. We'll see if they negotiate that later before opening day. But we're going to have seven-inning doubleheaders, runners on second base starting extra innings, as well.

Same deal. No exchange of lineup cards. No spitting on the field. You're allowed to chew gum, but not chewing tobacco. No arguments with the umpires. If you come within 6 feet of an umpire, you're going to get ejected and penalized.

This year's protocol, too, are very strict in the sense that, if players violate this and they find out that a player went to a restaurant or a bar or a bowling alley, a movie theater, they can not only be suspended, but also fined and losing their salary for the games missed. Every player that tests positive for COVID will have to sit out a minimum of 10 days.

Strict things, but it has to be done. This can be very-- the litmus test, of course, will be in spring training. We'll see how that works. The players will be tested every other day for COVID. When the vaccine comes out and they're eligible to receive it, they're being encouraged to please do so as promptly as possible.

So tough rules. This is going to be a long, grueling season for these players. It was tough last year getting through 60 games. Now, we're talking about 162. So season's still scheduled to start on April 1. And of course, all eyes will be on spring training to see what precautions have to be made.