Major League Baseball announced Monday that the start of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back even further following Sunday’s recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC has urged a nationwide halt of any gatherings consisting of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Opening Day, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, March 26, had already been postponed for two weeks as of last Thursday.
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Commissioner Rob Manfred conducted a conference call on Monday with all 30 Clubs, and in a statement released later in the afternoon the league announced that Opening Day “will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance” from the CDC.
In the statement, MLB said it “will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead,” adding that the Clubs remain committed to playing “as many games as possible” once the season begins.
“We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit,” MLB said in the statement. “MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus.”
Following his call with the Clubs, Manfred reiterated that the league was taking a wait-and-see approach with regard to the regular-season schedule.
“We’re not going to announce an alternate Opening Day at this point,” Manfred told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outside the Cardinals’ complex in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday. “We’re going to have to see how things develop. I think the commitment of the Clubs is to play as many baseball games in 2020 as we can, consistent with the safety of our players and our fans.”
During Monday’s call with the Clubs, Manfred discussed the status of ongoing operations at each of their Spring Training facilities, emphasizing that there should be “no organized activities” at those complexes.
“We did agree with the MLBPA that Spring Training sites would remain open, but the thought there is with a skeleton crew, really to give players someplace to use a gym as opposed to being forced out into a public gym,” Manfred said. “We’re really encouraging players to make a decision as to where they want to be over an extended period of time and get to that location as soon as possible. We’re providing detailed social distancing recommendations in the context of baseball operations to the Clubs today.”
Manfred also reported the latest on the league’s conversations with the MLBPA regarding a number of issues, noting that those talks were slated to continue Monday afternoon.
“Hopefully we can reach an agreement that will give a lot of people clarity as to how we’re going to proceed going forward,” Manfred said.