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16 players per game? Jon Miller shares ‘intriguing’ ideas he’s heard for MLB to play



Chase Field. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There is so much time to speculate, to wonder, to project, to envision how baseball could be played this season.

Grouping all the teams in Arizona? Cool. Not allowing players to see their families for about four months? All right. Anticipating a quick test for the coronavirus will be arriving soon and, in the case of a positive test, continuing on with an expanded roster? Uhh, sure.

There are unlikely and more unlikely avenues toward some MLB games being played this season that are being bandied about, and at a time when the NBA seems to have given up hope for its year, at least baseball is keeping its mind open.

Jon Miller has read and heard his share of theories and has a couple of “very intriguing” entries to add to the discourse.

“What if they said yes, baseball can [play solely in Arizona] with all the precautions they’re talking about, but they might also still have in Arizona [rules against gatherings of] 50 people or more?” the legendary Giants broadcaster said on KNBR’s “Papa & Lund” on Wednesday. “How would you do that because you have 25 players — or now it’s 26 players — on each team, so you’re already over 50 plus the coaches, the manager and what not. This is one idea that I’ve heard through the grapevine … you would have your 40-man roster every day. The 40-man roster that you can use in September or have been able to in the past. But you would only be able to activate 16 players on a given day.”

Doing some sketching: Sixteen players would need to include a starting pitcher and eight position players for a lineup. A bullpen of three relievers would leave space for four bench players.

A necessary wrinkle to this plan that explains how teams could survive with four pitchers: Each game would have to be nine innings. That leaves the door open for ties in a scenario in which three games could be played — and would have to be fit in — at a venue such as Chase Field.

“Maybe noon, four o’clock, eight o’clock,” said Miller, who is healthy and tested negative for COVID-19 after a scare. “To me that’s all very intriguing and really a lot of strategizing for a manager on a daily basis. You can’t have all your coaches there. Maybe 16 players, a manager, three coaches, you’ve gotta have a couple of trainers, there’s gotta be some clubhouse people to do everything. That puts you at 50.”