SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Padres pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training Wednesday in Peoria, Arizona, under what Major League Baseball is billing as enhanced set of health and safety protocols intended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The 24 pitchers and three catchers on the 40-man major league roster are expected to report Wednesday, along with the 23 non-roster pitchers and two catchers invited to the Padres' major league camp.
The remaining 13 players on the 40-man roster and eight other non- roster players are expected to report by Monday, when the Padres are set to conduct their first full-squad workout of the spring.
The Padres are scheduled to begin spring training play Feb. 28 against the Seattle Mariners, with whom they share the Peoria Sports Complex. They are set to begin the regular season April 1 by playing host to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.
Following a second-place finish in the National League West in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, where they finished with a winning record for the first time since 2010 and advanced to the National League Division Series, optimism is high for an even better 2021 season, thanks in part to the off-season acquisitions of pitching stars Blake Snell and Yu Darvish.
Baseball Prospectus' proprietary PECOTA system projects the Padres will win 95 games, second-most in the National League behind the defending World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who are projected to win 104.
The baseball statistics and analysis website FanGraphs projects the Padres will win 94 games, also second-most in the National League behind the Dodgers, which it predicts will win 97.
FanGraphs says the Padres have a 92.7% chance of qualifying for the playoffs, a 34.8% chance of winning the National League West and an 11.6% chance of winning the World Series, the third-highest in MLB behind the Dodgers (19.9%) and New York Yankees (18.6%).
Players were required to quarantine at home for five days before reporting for spring training as part of intake screening with the exception of performing essential activities or for approved individual outdoor exercise and workouts followed by diagnostic/PCR and antibody/serology testing.
Individuals must self-quarantine and may not access club facilities until their intake screening results are reported.
Other changes to the health and safety protocols include:
-- Beginning in spring training and continuing through the regular season and postseason, covered individuals may not attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars and lounges, fitness and wellness centers, entertainment venues, casinos or any other activity prohibited by state or local governments;
-- For spring training, covered individuals and any members of their household must quarantine at home with the exception of club-directed baseball activities at club facilities, travel with the team, individual outdoor physical activity and receiving medical care;
-- Face coverings must be properly worn at all times when in club facilities and in the dugout, other than for players on the field during a game or during pre-game warm-ups. Each club will appoint at least one face mask enforcement officer and automatic fines will be issued for non-compliance during games, with fines collected donated to charity.
-- Any covered individuals who are found to have violated the Code of Conduct are subject to potential discipline, including suspension or forfeiture of salary for days spent away from the club while in mandatory self-isolation or quarantine resulting from the violation.
MLB made what it calls "significant changes to the contact tracing process" to reflect changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical experts, and experiences from last season and experiences of other leagues over the past year.
Kinexon contact tracing devices must be worn at all times while in club facilities, during club-directed travel and while engaged in team activities including group workouts and practices.
A covered individual who has been identified as having been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of seven days and must test negative on day five or later among other requirements to rejoin club facilities. Additional monitoring precautions for individuals who are not designated as close contacts will also be required.