Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on 28-man rosters for the remainder of the season and through the postseason starting on Thursday.
That changed their original agreement to drop from 30 to 28 and then to 26.
Rosters will expand to 29 players for a doubleheader. Taxi squads may increase from three to five.
The Red Sox optioned righthander Chris Mazza and lefthander Matt Hall following Wednesday night’s 5-0 victory at Tampa Bay.
Mazza appeared in one game, working 2⅔ innings against the Yankees on Saturday. Hall was in two games and allowed eight earned runs over 4⅔ innings.
MLB also issued stricter coronavirus protocols following outbreaks that caused the Cardinals and Marlins to postpone games.
All team personnel will now be required to wear masks at all times except when on the field. That includes the dugout.
Face coverings will be required at all times in public places on the road. Traveling parties will be reduced to only those essential to conducting games.
New rules will require greater social distancing between players and staff within hotels, planes, and buses.
Players also must receive permission to leave the team hotel and at home are prohibited from bars, malls and other public places.
Pillar grateful for chance
Kevin Pillar was a productive player for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2013-19, a center fielder with a good glove who made up for the low on-base percentage with bursts of power and an all-out style the fans appreciated.
So it came as a shock when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants a week into last season as a cost-cutting move.
Pillar had 61 extra-base hits and 87 RBIs in 156 games for his new team. But the rebuilding Giants released him in December and Pillar was a free agent until the Red Sox signed him on the eve of spring training.
Pillar, 31, knows what it’s like to sit at home hoping a team will call. So he’s not about to complain about the inconveniences this most unusual season has presented.
“I’m trying to help this team win games but at the same time I’m trying to extend my career and play as long as I can and prove I have value to major league teams,” said Pillar, who started in center field against the Rays.
That the Red Sox started slowly hasn’t made it any easier. But Pillar brushed that aside.
“If you’re here, you might as well take advantage of it,” he said. “We’re here, you might as well compete. We’ve got a game regardless if there’s people in the stands, regardless if there’s rumors about the season getting shut down, regardless of our own individual thoughts about what should happen or what should not happen.
“If we’re here, we might as well go out and play as hard as we can. If we’re here, we might as well try and go out and win a game. The same goes for us individually. If we’re here and you’ve got an opportunity to step in the batters box, make the best of it.”
Pillar was just getting warmed up.
“Especially when things aren’t going as well, we start thinking about all the possibilities,” he said. “A lot of us left our families and kids and at home. We’re thinking, ‘I wish I was at home. I wish they would shut down the season. I wish we had a little bit more clarity on what was going to happen. I wish there was some more transparency.’
“These are all just excuses we allow ourselves to make, especially when things aren’t going well.”
Pillar said his message to teammates is don’t worry about tomorrow and focus on the game in front of them.
“Just make the most of the opportunity we have today,” he said.
Febles gets good news
Third base coach Carlos Febles, who returned to Boston because of an inconclusive result on a coronavirus test, received a negative result on Wednesday.
He is waiting for another result and if that proves negative, he would be cleared to rejoin the team on Friday. Ramon Vazquez coached third again Wednesday.
The Sox have no other team personnel in testing limbo.
“I think they’re doing a good job,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “But, again, we talk about it. You can be doing a great job and you still can get it.
“I know we didn’t want to go in a total bubble situation. I think it would be hard to do for baseball. I guess I get why they’re doing that in the NBA and [NHL]. But I think we’re doing some really good things and our guys are trying to follow it the best we can.”
Rotation (kind of) set
The Sox start a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Friday. Ryan Webber and Zack Godley are scheduled to start the first two games. Sunday will be a bullpen day. “We’ll have to figure out those pieces, Roenicke said … Darwinzon Hernandez pitched an inning in Pawtucket’s simulated game and struck out two of the three batters he faced. The lefty is building arm strength after missing the preseason workouts following a positive test. Bryan Mata, the well-regarded 21-year-old righthander, pitched three shutout innings. Righthanded reliever Robert Stock, who was claimed off waivers from the Phillies on July 27, struck out two in his inning and showed a 99-m.p.h. fastball.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.