New KBO season to open March 23, doubleheaders in play from beginning

SEOUL, The new South Korean baseball season will begin earlier than usual, with doubleheaders in play from the start to avoid a late-season calendar crunch, the league office said Sunday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced that the 2024 season will open March 23, about a week earlier than recent seasons. The 2023 campaign opened April 1, and the 2022 season began April 2.

In another change, games that are canceled on Friday or Saturday will be rescheduled as part of doubleheaders to be played the following day. The KBO added games during the summer months of July and August will not be subject to doubleheaders.

Teams will be able to add two extra players to their active rosters for doubleheaders.

The annual All-Star break will be shortened from the current seven days to four days. For 2024, the All-Star Game will be played July 6, and the midseason break will run from July 5 to 8.

These changes were brought in to ensure the regular season doesn't drag into mid-October and push the postseason into mid-November, as is the case this year.

In 2023, 72 games were rained out, compared with 42 games in 2022. However, doubleheaders didn't come into play until late September, while teams were scrambling to play makeup games. The regular season ended on Oct. 17. The Korean Series champions will be crowned no earlier than Nov. 11.

Manager and players in the KBO have long balked at playing doubleheaders, citing fatigue and the resultant risks of injury.

However, the KBO said playing doubleheaders earlier in the season will help teams avoid playing a tighter schedule later on and thus reduce injury risks.

Also, the KBO said it has to wrap up the postseason before November next year, since the national team is set to play in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 tournament, beginning Nov. 10.

Source: Yonhap News Agency