With Major League Baseball owners reportedly preparing to discuss proposals for a potential 2020 season on Monday, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and MLBPA executive board member Andrew Miller says the players remain focused on one thing — guaranteed safety.
Speaking to ESPN's Jesse Rogers on Saturday, Miller says getting back on the field will be secondary in the players’ thought process to keeping themselves, their coaches, the umpires and all of their families healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"I don't think anything can be done until (safety) can be guaranteed and we feel comfortable with it," Miller told ESPN. “We want to put a good product on the field, but that's totally secondary to the health of the players. We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn't mean our staff is, that doesn't mean the umpires are going to be in the clear.
"It's not hard to get one degree of separation away from players who have kids who may have conditions, or other family members that live with them. I'm confident before anything happens, we'll sort through all those issues."
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports the owners will hold a conference call Monday aimed at solidifying a proposal to be presented to the MLBPA on Tuesday.
A truncated schedule with anywhere from 78 to 82 regular-season games and an expanded postseason is expected to lead those discussions.
A regular season beginning in early July and consisting of approximately 80 games. The number might not be exactly 80 — 78 and 82 are also possibilities.
The schedule would be regionalized: Teams would face opponents only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league. An NL East club, for example, would face teams only from the NL East and AL East.
A 78-game schedule might look like this: Four three-game series against each division opponent and two three-game series against each non-division opponent.
The Athletic’s report also notes that MLB wants to play in as many home ballparks as possible. With shelter-in-place orders still in effect in several key states, there’s no guarantee they’ll receive clearance in every city by July.
Teams are also reportedly hesitant to hold makeshift training camps in their home ballparks.
One thing is clear as we reach the midpoint in May: There are still several hurdles to clear and details to work out just to get a proposal on the table. If and when that happens, the players will have a lot of questions. As Miller reiterated during his discussion with ESPN, those questions will revolve around health and safety issues.
"There's always risks in life, but this seems like something that is very front and center. There's still a lot of unknowns. We need answers. We can't ask guys to go out and put their lives at risk. We all want to play. Trust me."
We wouldn't call this a make-or-break week in determining the fate of the 2020 season. There’s still time to work with, especially if the season is ultimately cut in half. But it feels like some progress has to be made, even if that progress is merely gauging the mindsets and confidence levels on both sides of the table.
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