When could MLB begin? Baseball timelines in Korea and Italy provide some reference

Corey Seidman
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Though MLB is trending toward a June return with the regular season beginning in July, no start date has yet been announced. The timelines in two other countries, however, provide some valuable reference.

The KBO, Korea's top level of professional baseball, is set to begin its regular season Tuesday at 2 p.m. local time, which would be 1 a.m. Tuesday here. There will be five games played in five different cities, though each of the five cities are within 100 to 165 miles of each other. The layout of the team sites is somewhat similar to what you'd see in Florida for spring training and all travel is done via bus.

There will be no fans in the stands for games in Korea, at least for now. 

The KBO has made alterations to its season, such as eliminating its All-Star Game and reducing the number of playoff games. The goal is to still play 144 regular-season games with each of the 10 teams meeting 16 times.

Few, if any countries locked down more quickly after the spread of the coronavirus than South Korea, which is a huge reason why the KBO will be one of the first pro leagues around the world to return. Its original opening day was supposed to be March 28, two days after MLB's.

Mark Weidemaier, a former scout for four MLB teams who was also on Matt Williams' coaching staff in Washington in 2014-15, is a bench coach for Williams and the Kia Tigers of the KBO. He said this to MLB Network's Jon Morosi over the weekend:

"Couldn't be better. Very relaxed atmosphere. We are all used to the daily temp scan. Support folks weak masks ... Basebaill is back, albeit in a much different environment. No downside here."

Italy

Italy, which was hit by the virus as hard as any country in the world, will begin lifting the lockdown today that it put into place on March 9. An estimated 4 million people will return to work.

Opening day for the top league in Italy is set for June 14, though it could be pushed back a month to July 12 if needed. The length of the regular season has been significantly reduced and is scheduled to end in mid-August, followed by a championship series. It hasn't yet been announced whether fans will be permitted to attend.

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When could MLB begin? Baseball timelines in Korea and Italy provide some reference originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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