Early July has, for several weeks now, seemed like the earliest realistic start date for MLB's regular season. Pitchers will likely need about a month to get back into game shape, and that modified spring training could take place during the month of June.
Where that spring training takes place and where games take place are still up in the air. It could be the 3-state format with 10 teams each in Arizona, Texas and Florida. It could be a 10-10-10 format with teams playing in their home parks in front of no fans. Much is still left to be determined.
Asked Tuesday by the 94WIP Morning Show whether he thinks baseball could return on July 1, Phillies manager Joe Girardi lent it a bit of credence by saying he's "heard some chatter about that as well."
In South Korea, the regular season was supposed to begin on March 28 and was delayed until May 5. South Korea, however, handled its shutdown more quickly and effectively than practically any country in the world. Yesterday was their third straight day with no positive domestic COVID-19 cases.
Another key difference in South Korea's KBO that allowed for such a relatively quick return to action is the proximity of the ballparks. All 10 teams are within 100 to 165 miles of each other, almost like how Florida is laid out for Grapefruit League play. Travel is done via bus, so the logistical issues were more simple to figure out.
If it takes the U.S. double the amount of time to get players back as it did Korea, we'd be looking at spring training in mid-June, which again, should theoretically allow for a return to regular-season action by early-to-mid-July. It will almost definitely be a shortened season because even if every team played every day without an off-day from July 1 through Nov. 30, it would still be about 10 games short of a 162-game season. That could be increased with doubleheaders but negated by the need to have some off-days.
Keep checking back. We'll be up on all the latest developments.