MLB returns ball kids to lines after feedback from clubs

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A ballboy catches a ball being taken out of play during the third inning of an exhibition baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, July 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

CHICAGO – It looks as if Christian Yelich is going to get some help. Same for Aaron Judge and the rest of baseball's corner outfielders.

Major League Baseball has adjusted its policy for bat-and-ball kids this summer, clearing the way for ball boys and girls to return to the foul lines during games. It recently informed clubs of the change, along with a set of detailed guidelines covering what they are allowed to do at the ballpark.

Baseball had planned to play without bat-and-ball kids this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Depending on how teams decided to handle the situation, that might have led to a little more physical activity for corner outfielders running over to get a foul ball off the field.

Not so much anymore. Take it easy, Mookie Betts. You, too, Juan Soto.

“There’s some ballparks where there’s a lot of foul territory, so I think it has a bigger impact in some places than others," Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said Wednesday. “The biggest thing I take away from it is just I think for all of us, we’re grateful when MLB makes adjustments when there are things that we give them feedback on.”

While ball boys and girls are returning to the foul lines, baseball is staying with its plans to keep them out of the dugout area — covered in Section 5.2 in baseball’s operations manual for the 2020 season.

The last paragraph of Section 5.2 reads: “The duties normally handled by bat boys/girls and ball boys/girls will be performed by existing Club staff and not by any minor person. If no staff is available to perform those roles, the functions will not be available for the game; provided, however, that Clubs must make staff available to provide umpires with new balls and to retrieve equipment discarded by a batter who reaches base.”

The ball boys and girls on the foul lines will wear masks and gloves. They are required to stay at least 20 feet away from players, coaches, umpires and staff members. They aren't allowed to play catch with any on-field personnel.