The Atlanta Braves and the 5-inning games

CoolToday Park, Spring home of the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
CoolToday Park, Spring home of the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Braves will get their Spring Training work in, but they’ll have to do it quickly.

Spring games will shorter, but for reasonable reasons.

When you think about it for a minute or two, it makes sense, but the idea that major league baseball teams will likely start their Spring games by playing just 5 innings seems like… like a sacrilege worse than the universal Designated Hitter.

But it’s coming…

"Chris Cotillo on Twitter: “If you’ve ever thought spring training games are too long, you’re in for a treat. * Games between 2/27-3/13 can be played as 5- or 7-inning games, as long as the managers agree. * Games on or after 3/14 will be scheduled as 9 innings but managers can agree to shorten to 7.” / Twitter"

Yes:  5 inning games and 7 inning games will probably be the norm through at least mid-March… maybe even until the last Grapefruit League week.

The reason for this is actually fairly straightforward:  it’s because the minor leaguers are not going to be in camp until the major league players depart.

Normally — and especially early on in the Spring season — the major league players get one or two ABs apiece and then retire for the day (or hit the golf course).  Pitchers start with 2-or-3 innings before they get stretched out.

After that’s done, the “roster guys” are replaced by non-roster invitees and promising prospects.

By the time the 8th and 9th innings come around, you see a lot of players bearing uniform numbers in the 80’s and 90’s that you’ve never heard of — guys brought up for the day just to get a look or fill a role.

But they won’t be around this year.  And yet the routine of the major league players still needs to be maintained, so… games are necessarily going to be shorter:  5 and 7 innings likely being the most common.

Another possible casualty of this post-COVID Spring Training era:  expect few, if any, exhibition games against university teams.

The idea of the Braves playing the Georgia Bulldogs or the Red Sox playing Boston College… not likely unless there’s some provable adherence to quarantining/bubble protocols to protect all parties involved… and that’s just something that the college-level programs can’t guarantee.

Once the major league teams head north, the minor leagues will finally get a chance to hit the fields for their own workouts; hopefully leading to a real season for them after a year’s hiatus.

Next. Bust out the Fried. dark

But while the 2021 season looks like it will get off the ground in the next week or two, it’s going to look quite different from normal.