MLB, union agree to play 7 innings in doubleheaders

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association on Friday agreed to stage seven-inning doubleheaders for the remainder of the 2020 regular season, starting Saturday.

With a number of doubleheaders expected to take place because of rescheduled games due to current and potential coronavirus outbreaks as well as weather-related postponements, shortening doubleheaders to seven innings was a compromise that came together quickly, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan.

In a joint statement, MLB and the MLBPA said the agreement helps promote "player health and safety" due to the likelihood of frequent doubleheaders because of "dynamic circumstances."

The change was unanimously endorsed by MLB's Competition Committee and Playing Rules Committee.

There is one doubleheader currently scheduled in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals playing the Milwaukee Brewers twice on Sunday after Friday's game was postponed. Saturday's Toronto Blue Jays-Philadelphia Phillies twin bill was postponed because two Phillies staffers tested positive for COVID-19.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark called deputy commissioner Dan Halem during the first doubleheader of the season Tuesday and said players might want to consider shortened twin bills this year. The union surveyed its members as it considered proposing either two seven-inning games for a doubleheader, or nine innings for the opener and seven for the nightcap. A source confirmed to ESPN that MLB was checking opinions among owners and general managers.

MLB already had adopted one shortening rule for 2020: Each half of each extra inning starts with a runner on second base.

That rule will still apply in doubleheader games, meaning teams in the eighth inning will automatically start with a runner on second base.

Seven-inning doubleheaders have been commonplace for years in the minor leagues and college.

Major league players, owners and general managers had addressed this week the possibility of shortening doubleheaders.

"I like nine and nine, personally," New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino said Wednesday. "I don't want to be marginalized out of the game. Once we go seven-inning games, slippery slope there."

Said Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon: "If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.

"You just accelerate what you're doing, just like we're doing with the season. So I get it from the perspective of expediency, if it's necessary. ... I'm in for anything right now. I'm not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.