NEW YORK (AP) — Minor league teams across the country are set to open their seasons Tuesday, returning baseball to communities denied the old national pastime during the coronavirus pandemic.
Capacities will differ by jurisdiction, but for most, it will be the first opportunity to see pro players in person since the entire 2020 season was canceled.
Of course, much has changed since the last affiliated games were played in 2019.
There are fewer teams and leagues, and Major League Baseball has introduced plans to use the minors as a testing ground for changes that could improve the pace of play or reduce player injuries.
According to the Associated Press, some changes include an automated strike zone, restrictions on defensive positioning, and larger bases.
At Triple-A, the bases are expanding from 15 by 15 inches to 18 by 18.
In Double-A, infielders will have to keep both feet in the infield at the start of every play, although there isn't a ban on shifting three or more infielders to either side of second base.
In Low-A Southeast League, some games will feature an automatic ball-strike system, which some players have complained about how it grades breaking pitches down in the zone.
Another change is pay.
According to The AP, Class A players will see their minimum weekly wage raised from $290 to $500.
In Double-A, income will jump from $350 to $600, and players in Triple-A will see a raise from $502 to $700.