After an extended hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball is finally set to return.
Opening Day is Thursday, and it will see the Nationals host the Yankees and the Dodgers host the Giants. The Braves open on Friday against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Game time is 4:10 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN and Fox Sports South.
The 2020 regular season will be a 60-game season that will conclude on Sept. 27.
The SeasonBefore the season starts, the Braves will host Miami for two exhibition games. The series will air on Fox Sports Southeast and Fox Sports Florida. Tuesday’s game is set for 7:10 p.m.
The first game at Truist Park will be July 29 against Tampa.
The season will consist of series against other NL East teams — Washington, Philadelphia, New York Mets and Miami, along with AL East teams — New York Yankees, Boston, Toronto, Tampa and Baltimore.
The remainder of the major league clubs will follow suit. The teams from the NL Central Division will cross over and play AL Central clubs, while the NL West will play the AL West.
PlayersAtlanta’s players to watch this season include first baseman Freddie Freeman, who recently recovered from the coronavirus, outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., second baseman Ozzie Albies and former Marietta High School standout Dansby Swanson at shortstop.
Freeman’s battle with COVID-19 contributed to outfielder Nick Markakis’ decision to sit out this season in an attempt to avoid catching the virus.
Atlanta’s biggest loss this offseason was the subtraction of power-hitting infielder Josh Donaldson, who signed with Minnesota. The Braves signed outfielder Marcell Ozuna to help make up for the loss of Donaldson at the plate.
All-Star Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried will lead the Braves’ pitching corps.
The Braves lost former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel to the White Sox in the offseason. Atlanta added 2019 All-Star reliever Will Smith from the Giants and Cole Hamels from the Cubs to bolster the pitching rotation.
They also signed former American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, but he decided not to play this season because of the coronavirus.
New RulesThe 2020 season will see the introduction of some new rules.
The National League will introduce the designated hitter this season in order to give pitchers more rest. The American League initially introduced the designated hitter in 1973.
Games that are suspended by weather will restart from where the game left off. These games were previously restarted from the top of the first inning.
If a regular season game goes to extra innings, each team will begin the extra frame with a runner on second base. This player will be either a pinch-runner or the player preceding the half-inning’s leadoff hitter. In the event that the player preceding the leadoff hitter is a pitcher, the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order will start the inning on second. These pre-placed players will not count as an earned run for the opposing pitcher if they score.
Some rule changes have been put in place in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus on the field.
Players and managers that abandon their positions to argue with an umpire will be subjected to ejections, fines and suspensions. Players and managers that engage in a fight or come within six feet of a member or manager of the opposing team to argue will be subjected to the same punishment.
Pitchers can carry a small rag, which can only be wet with water, to use in place of licking their fingers. However, they must clearly wipe their pitching hand dry before taking the rubber.
Minor league games have been cancelled for the season. Major league teams will have reserve teams, or taxi squads, of 30 players in place to back up the major league rosters.
Atlanta’s reserve team will practice at Gwinnett County’s Coolray Field. Coolray is typically home to the Gwinnett Stripers, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate.