Clayton Kershaw believes Major League Baseball would be taking a risk if it pushed the World Series beyond Thanksgiving due to the on-going coronavirus shutdown.
Short offseason create risks
Kershaw doesn’t just have an eye on the 2020 season. While the players are clearly determined to play as many games as possible in what will ultimately be a shortened season, he feels the deeper the season goes the more it will impact the 2021 season.
“I think once you start getting into playing longer in the year, that starts affecting next year. I think you get a little risky the further you go in the season.”
"I think expanding it maybe a couple weeks on the back end, but if you go any further than that, you start talking about Thanksgiving and December for a World Series, that gets a little iffy, in my opinion."
Complicating matters from a scheduling standpoint is the World Classic Baseball. Dozens of MLB players are planning to participate in the tournament, which is scheduled to begin in March 2021.
Spring training typically opens a week earlier to accommodate their preparation. It was going to be a quick turn around already. A World Series in early December means some players would be back in two months or less.
The potential risks are obvious. Players would be getting fewer off days and less rest to squeeze more games into 2020. On top of that, they would also have less recovery time during the offseason before ramping up for what everyone plans to be a full 2021 season.
It’s a recipe for fatigue, and fatigue is a recipe for more injuries. That’s something no one wants.
Full spring training not required
Kershaw also weighed in how much preparation time will be required before starting the 2020 season.
"We are all pretty built up," Kershaw said. "Especially for hitters, I think that if you talk to any hitter, they don't need four weeks to get ready. It's really just the starting pitchers.
"So I think that if all starting pitchers came back with the mindset that we have the ability to throw three innings right out of the gate, you would only need 20 days and that gets you four starts ... and then you would be ready for the season."
A report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggests rosters could be expanded from 26 players to 29 for the first month after the season returns. That would take some pressure off starting pitchers to work deep into games.
Union chief Tony Clark told Yahoo Sports that many scheduling options are on the table. One of those options would be playing in empty ballparks. That could allow the season to begin earlier and potentially avoid the scheduling issues that have Kershaw concerned. At this point, though, it’s still only guesswork.
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