Giants manager Gabe Kapler says it will be 'tremendous challenge' to stop spitting when baseball returns

Whenever the 2020 MLB season begins, baseball will return with a strict new set of rules designed to keep players and personnel safe following the COVID-19 pandemic. Players will isolate at home and in the hotel on the road, clubhouse lockers will meet social distancing requirements, and players will be tested regularly, among other things.

MLB's safety proposal to the MLBPA also includes a ban on high fives, hugs, licking fingers, and spitting. All those common but not necessarily sanitary behaviors have to be eliminated to keep everyone safe. To say it will be a challenge for everyone to adjust is an understatement. Players don't even realize they're spitting or licking their fingers half the time, like me when I bite my nails.

During a radio interview with KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" on Monday, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said it will be a "tremendous challenge" to break those spitting habits when baseball returns. KNBR's Mark W. Sanchez has the transcript:

"When you've been doing it your whole life, it's like breaking any habit. It's going to be hard when things get stressful not to default to the habit," Kapler said on KNBR. "But I can tell you this: Everybody's going to be committed to doing it because it's so worth it. The trade-off between giving up that habit and getting to play baseball, we'll play baseball all day long." 

Kapler also detailed his game routine -- he starts with a cup of coffee at first pitch, then moves on to gum, then sunflower seeds in the middle innings --  and said many others in the game have similar routines. Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona's habitual gum-chewing is the stuff of legend.

Spitting seems harmless, and it's easy enough to spit six feet away from someone, but it's not quite that simple. When you spit, germs are expelled into the air, similar to a sneeze. That could get someone sick. Unlikely? Yeah, probably, but it's still possible, and MLB doesn't want to take any chances, so they're going to prohibit spitting.

It's unclear how MLB will enforce the rule, but players and coaches could have a difficult time adjusting. Again, this is something they do out of habit. For no real reason either, they just do it for the sake of doing it sometimes. We're all being inconvenienced (or worse) by the pandemic. Asking players to stop spitting is not the end of the world.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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