Major League Baseball teams will once again utilize alternate training sites for at least the start of the 2021 season.
The return to alternate sites is being made because the start of the Triple-A season is being pushed back by at least a month.
Triple-A teams were scheduled to start their season on April 6, five days after MLB opens its 2021 campaign. Instead, Minor League Baseball's top level is now tentatively scheduled to begin play on May 4, a date that would put it in line with the other minor-league levels. The missed games in April won't be rescheduled.
By delaying the start of the Triple-A season, teams are hoping to vaccinate their players before they depart for the campaign, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports.
Minor League Baseball canceled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no affiliates last summer, MLB teams operated an alternate training site at a nearby minor-league stadium. Those sites were used to house players in their designated 60-player pool who weren't on their team's active roster.
The 2021 alternate sites will function similarly to last year as a de facto minor-league club. It's expected that around 24 players will train at each alternate site, according to Passan.
Due to the pandemic, MLB delayed the start of minor-league spring training until after big-league camps break in late March.