MLB Renews 7-inning Doubleheaders, Runners on 2nd in Extras
Seven-inning doubleheaders and runners on second base to start extra innings will return for a second straight season under an agreement for 2021 health protocols reached Monday between Major League Baseball and the players’ association. The deal did not include last year’s experimental rule to extend the designated hitter to the National League or expanded playoffs. After allowing 16 teams in the postseason last year instead of 10, MLB had proposed 14 for this year before withdrawing that plan last month.
Last year’s expanded playoffs agreement did not come together until hours before the season’s first pitch.
“We’re comfortable with both rules,” San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler wrote in a text to the AP. “It seems like most were good with them in ’20, and with a year of familiarity under our belts, we’ll tackle them fine.”
"I actually liked both the seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner on second,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin wrote in a text to the AP. “I was skeptical at first, but they both were successful in my opinion.”
The agreement includes more sophisticated contact tracing for COVID-19 that includes the use of technology, and more league rules on behavior to comply with coronavirus protocols. The extended DH was included in last year’s health and safety protocols. MLB would not include it in this year’s after the union rejected the proposal for a delay in the season that included the DH being used again in the NL.
Spring training opens on Feb. 17 and the season starts on April 1. The union last week rejected MLB’s proposal to delay spring training and opening day until April 28, a plan that would have led to a compressed schedule of 154 games per team instead of the usual 162.
Last season’s start was delayed from March 26 to July 23 because of the pandemic, and each team’s schedule was cut to 60 games.