As MLB continues to look for ways to conduct a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has suggested the idea of playing shortened doubleheaders as a possible solution.
In a conference call on Wednesday, Atkins floated the possibility of holding seven-inning doubleheaders as a way to maximise games in a season still without a definite start date as players remain away from team facilities.
The practice is routinely used in the minor leagues, where Atkins spent five years as a pitcher in the Cleveland Indians organisation before joining that team's front office.
"Maybe that's something we have to consider," he said. "If you're playing doubleheaders, and suppose they are nine innings each, the demands on a pitching staff would be extremely significant."
Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black previously acknowledged the likelihood of adding doubleheaders to a condensed schedule and said he would be open to such a plan.
MLB was to begin the 2020 season on Thursday before cancelling all spring training games earlier this month and postponing opening day until at least mid-May.
While Atkins sees holding seven-inning doubleheaders as something feasible, he stopped short of fully supporting the idea.
"You're not playing the game that is written in the rulebooks," he said.
"It's not the regulation game, it's a different game. Bullpens and teams are built in a way to play nine innings. I'm sure there are people that would challenge that and I'm not so sure it's something we should do.
"What we need to do is get ideas out where people feel safe mentioning them and then work through what's practical, what makes sense, what are the downsides, because there's going to be downside, and try to weigh those appopriately."
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