MLB Players to wear tracing devices
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced professional sports leagues to be creative and change the way they are typically used to operating. Empty stadiums and virtual press conferences have become normal, with leagues doing their best to keep players, coaches and staff safe.
Starting with the upcoming 2021 campaign, Major League Baseball players, coaches, and any personnel that require access to them will be required to wear electronic tracing wristbands as part of the league’s effort to stop the spread of the virus. The policy will be in place from the very start of spring training, with disciplinary measures in place for those refusing to comply.
“Every covered Individual must wear a Kinexon contact tracing device at all times while in club facilities and during club directed travel and while engaged in team activities, including group workouts and practices,” the manual says, via Sportsnet. “Repeated failure to wear the devices or repeated failure to return the devices to the Kinexon device docking station may be a basis for discipline,” the manual says.
Despite not getting into specific details about set fines or suspensions, the manual does state that violations of the agreement “are subject to potential discipline, including but not limited to suspension or forfeiture of salary for days spent away from the club while in mandatory self-isolation or quarantine resulting from the violation.”
Last year, teams in the league were able to travel and play games in their home markets as opposed to within a bubble in one city. The only exception to this was the Toronto Blue Jays who were forced to play their home games in Buffalo as a result of the Canadian boarder remaining closed. The team opted to play in the home stadium of their Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bison, after being turned down by several other American cities with current MLB ballparks.
The league had a plethora of safety procedures in place throughout last year, but were still forced to postpone or cancel a swathe of games as a result of positive cases. While players will be encouraged to get the vaccine, there will not be a mandatory vaccination policy put in place at the moment.
“Vaccination for COVID-19 will be voluntary for all players. However, MLB and the MLBPA will strongly encourage players to undergo vaccination at the appropriate time,” the manual states.
The manual also adds “the parties, in consultation with their respective medical experts, will consider in good faith relaxing these protocols on a league-wide, team-wide and/or individual basis ” … (to) the extent it is safe and appropriate to do so” when sufficient players are immunized.
Spring training is set to begin in February, with the first preseason games scheduled for February 27th. The regular season will start on April 1st, with all 30 teams in the league scheduled to play. Opening Day will include 10 divisional match-ups and three interleague contests.