The Astros are using the University of Houston baseball facility as an alternate site.
There are more than a few changes to how MLB teams operate in 2020, not the least of which is the roster construction. Since there is no minor league season taking place, teams will need an alternate site for non-roster players to keep in game shape if needed. The Astros have reached a deal with the University of Houston to use their facilities for this.
Constellation Field, home of the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, had also been mentioned as a possibility, but the Astros are instead teaming up with the Cougars. The players who aren’t on the active roster will be able to be nearby and continue training throughout the season.
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There will likely be two or three dozen players working out there. Teams are allowed to bring 60 players to training camp when it begins next week, so most will have their full 40-man rosters plus 20 additional players. Many of these players will not make the team but will instead continue training at the University of Houston once the regular season starts.
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To begin the season, teams will have 30-man active rosters. That number will be cut to 28 after two weeks and to 26 after four weeks. So there could be as many as 34 players training at Schroeder Park, though that would only be if everyone is healthy and the team is at home. A “taxi squad” of up to three players can be taken on the road to be called up if needed.
In addition to the typical 10-day injured list, there will also be a separate injured list for players exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or those who may have been exposed. There won’t be any minimum or maximum number of days for a player to be on that list.
It’s an unfortunate reality that some players will likely miss time this season to be quarantined to prevent the further spread of the virus. Depth is going to be key this year, as is avoiding the virus as much as possible. That may be easier said than done, especially in Houston where the virus is currently spiking.
Keeping the extra players in game shape is important, so kudos to the University of Houston for lending its facilities to the Astros. It’s not as good as having a minor league season, but it’s the best we’ve got in these difficult times.