At today’s press conference announcing the end of the lockout, Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that reporters would have access to major league clubhouses in 2022 (relayed by Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat). Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post noted last month that MLB had expressed its support for the return of clubhouse access but that had been subject to approval from the MLB Players Association.
Apparently, the union is on-board with the development. For the past two seasons, reporters haven’t had clubhouse access on account of the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. As with the pandemic inspired on-field rules changes, the ban on media personnel in clubhouses will be dropped this year as concerns about the virus’ impact on the sport have lessened.
The return of clubhouse access figures to be a welcome development for reporters. Expanding individual access to players and avoiding possible technological difficulties associated with speaking over video chat are among the potential benefits for reporters speaking with players and staff for stories. Shortly after MLB first suspended clubhouse access, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote about the advantages he felt it afforded reporters, which he opined has a trickle-down benefit for fans consuming their stories.