The Los Angeles Angels will play an exhibition game at Angel Stadium for the first time in 2020 Wednesday evening, four months later than originally planned.
The Angels were scheduled to open the Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium on March 22, but the coronavirus outbreak prompted cancellation of spring training games after March 12.
The Angels will be facing the San Diego Padres for the second time in three days. The Angels defeated the Padres, 1-0, Monday at Petco Park on an unearned run in the first inning. David Fletcher scored from second base when pitcher Garrett Richards fielded a ground ball by Tommy La Stella and threw to second base in an attempt to start a double play and the ball went into center field.
The Angels lost to the Dodgers, 6-4 , Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, with the teams combining for five home runs. Albert Pujols and Brian Goodwin hit back-to-back home runs for the Angels in the seventh inning, cutting the deficit to 5-4. La Stella’s second-inning homer opened the scoring.
Chris Taylor hit a three-run homer in the third and rookie Zach McKinstry a solo homer in the eighth for the Dodgers.
Rookie Patrick Sandoval will be the Angels starting pitcher facing fellow left-hander Joey Lucchesi. Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High School graduate, was 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts, for the Angels last season. Lucchesi was 10-10 with a 4.18 ERA in 30 starts for the Padres last season, his second in MLB.
Like most sporting events around the world, fans will be barred from attending under public health directives prohibiting public events and gatherings.
The game will be different from Angel games in past seasons for several reasons.
Major League Baseball has instituted a set of health and safety protocols that will affect the game even before the first pitch. There will be no pre-game exchange of lineup cards. Instead, each team will input their lineup card into a mobile app provided by MLB.
Umpires will then print lineup cards for both teams approximately 15 minutes before the first pitch. At the home plate meeting — where participants will be 6 feet apart — teams should confirm their lineups with the home plate umpire and inform him of any changes made since it was printed.
Teams are required to provide expanded dugout and bullpen space.
All non-playing personnel must wear face coverings at all times in the dugout and bullpen.
The protocols call for players, umpires and other on-field personnel “to practice physical distancing to the extent possible within the limitations of competition and the fundamentals of baseball.”
When the ball is out of play, fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner.
If the batter is in the batter’s box and the catcher needs to stand to relay signs to the infielders, the catcher can step onto the grass toward the mound to give the signs before assuming his position behind home plate.
First and third base coaches should remain in or behind the coach’s box and not approach a baserunner, fielder or umpire on-field.
Players on opposite teams should not socialize, fraternize or come within 6 feet of each other before the game, during warm-ups, in between innings or after the game.
Prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field.
Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within 6 feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager to argue or fight are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions.
On-field personnel must stand at least 6 feet apart during the singing of the national anthem.
Spitting is prohibited at all times in club facilities, including on the field.
Players and all other on-field personnel must make every effort to avoid touching their face with their hands, including giving signs, wiping away sweat with their hands, licking their fingers and whistling with their fingers.
Pitchers will be allowed to carry a small wet rag in their back pocket to be used for moisture in lieu of licking their fingers. Pitchers may not access the rag while on the pitching rubber and must clearly wipe the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the pitcher’s plate.
Water is the only substance allowed on the rag.
MLB’s Operations Manual calls for players to keep and use their own personal equipment, whenever possible, in order to minimize the amount of communal equipment touched by multiple players and other on-field personnel.
Pitchers should bring their own rosin bag to the mound.
After batting, players must retrieve their own equipment such as their fielding glove, cap and sunglasses from the dugout prior to taking the field, and should not have teammates, coaches, or other staff retrieve or toss them.
Any communal equipment must be disinfected regularly throughout each game. Club personnel responsible for handling player equipment should change their gloves or wash their hands (or both) regularly during games. A player or coach should never handle another player’s equipment.
Any baseball that is put in play and touched by multiple players shall be removed and exchanged for a new baseball. After an out, players are strongly discouraged from throwing the ball around the infield.
Baseballs used for batting practice should be cycled out at the end of each day and not be reused for at least five days.
Each half-inning of a game going into extra innings will begin with a runner on second base in an attempt to reduce long games and the strain they place on pitchers.
“We want to be a positive example of responsibly returning to work with extensive health and safety protocols,” an MLB spokesperson told City News Service. “Our goals are to provide enjoyment and normalcy for sports fans during these unprecedented times.”
Wednesday’s game marks the conclusion of exhibition play for the Angels who will open the regular season Friday at Oakland.
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