As was the case in 2020, Major League Baseball will tighten COVID-19 protocols as the postseason gets underway. Managers, coaches, and personnel will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to access the field and other restricted areas, per a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Friday evening:
MLB will require non-playing personnel (managers, coaches, athletic trainers, etc.) to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to gain access to field and other restricted areas in postseason, sources tell @TheAthletic. 1/2— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 17, 2021
Sources add: Any staff member who is currently unvaccinated but wants to retain access to restricted areas during postseason may do so if staff member receives one dose of one of the Moderna vaccines prior to October 4 and has a second dose scheduled.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 17, 2021
Last year, MLB employed extra measures in order to ensure that COVID-19 wouldn’t affect its most important games, placing players in quasi-bubbles while hosting all playoff games at neutral sites. Of course, that plan wasn’t totally effective, as Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed midway through the final game of the World Series after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The league has not released specific figures on what percentage of non-playing staff members are vaccinated, only announcing that roughly 85 percent of Tier 1 personnel — a group that also includes players — have received the vaccine. Thus, it remains to be seen how much of an uphill battle it will be for the teams heading to the postseason to get any holdouts vaccinated over the next few weeks. Rosenthal notes that any non-playing personnel who wishes to retain access can do so by receiving the first dose of the Moderna vaccine prior to October 4 and scheduling a second dose.
Depending on their roles, certain coaches who refuse the vaccine could continue contributing remotely, as some high-risk staff members did during the 2020 season, though that certainly won’t be ideal for postseason teams that want to be at their best and have all hands on deck in October.