The health and safety protocols from Major League Baseball have been announced and that means that teams have been given what information they need in order to officially announce when spring training will begin. For the Cincinnati Reds, pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on February 18th. Position players will join them for the first full workout on February 22nd.
February 18th in just nine days away. The position players are set to join them four days later, which would be just under two weeks ago. Are you excited yet?
Within the health and safety guidelines for the 2021 season there are some things worth noting. During spring training, players and coaching staffs and anyone that lives in the household with them “must quarantine at home with the exception of club-direct baseball activities at club facilities, travel with the team, individual outdoor physical activity, outdoor dining (if approved by the Joint Committee), and performing essential activities (e.g., medical care)”.
Unlike last year, the roster will begin the year at 26 players and it will remain there until September, when rosters can expand to 28 players. However, there is no limit on the number of pitchers that a team can carry this season.
We know that Triple-A and the Major League level will begin spring training at the same time, and that once they have completed spring training then there will be spring training for Low-A, Advanced-A, and Double-A. What still isn’t clear is how Triple-A is going to be handled once the Major League season begins. Within the protocols, there is this section:
A club is permitted to carry up to five additional taxi squad players on all road trips with the Major League team. If the club elects to carry five additional players, at least one must be a player whose designated position prior to the season is catcher. Players on the taxi squad are permitted to workout with the Major League Club but are not permitted to be in uniform and in the dugout during games. Upon the conclusion of each road trip, players on the taxi squad will return to the alternate training site.
This seems to suggest, at least early on, that the players who don’t make the big league club out of spring training will be in “Triple-A” at an alternate site. Or maybe this is just re-used language from last year and it hasn’t been adjusted. With that said, if teams are still going to have a taxi squad, that would in many cases leave a Triple-A team without reinforcements of their own early in the season when Double-A is not yet playing. We will update this when we have more information on how Triple-A and the “alternate site” will work.