MLB set to return after commissioner Rob Manfred imposes 2020 season

Alex Pavlovic
NBC Sports BayArea

About three months after the Giants and A's 2020 seasons were postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, baseball is coming back. Finally.

After MLB and the MLBPA moved about as deliberately as they possibly could amid extremely public and remarkably nasty negotiations, the players rejected the latest offer from ownership, putting the decision in Rob Manfred's hands. The league announced Monday night that owners voted unanimously to have a season, which would be 60 games, and are awaiting final word from the players on two key points. A March agreement between the two sides allowed the league to impose a season if owners and players could not come to an agreement. 

Baseball will return in July if players agree that they can get to camp by July 1 and also that they will sign off on health and safety protocols for a sport that intends to return with COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down. The league asked the players to respond by 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

The return date is nearly three weeks later than first anticipated. People on both sides hoped to come to an agreement far earlier, allowing baseball to return the first week of July, play a full slate on the July 4 holiday, and have a full month to dominate the sports scene and potentially grow the game before the NBA playoffs kicked off and football returned.

MLB and the Players Association couldn't find common ground, though, disagreeing most notably on the length of the season and whether or not a March agreement guaranteed prorated salaries for the players. The daily back-and-forth was consistently leaked to national reporters, and on June 15, Manfred took on a pessimistic tone, saying he could no longer guarantee that there would be a season.

On the other side, players asked to simply be told when and where to report. 

We now know they'll return at the start of July, and the expectation is that most will report to their home ballparks. One of MLB's initial plans was to have bubbles in Arizona and Florida, but those states have been hit particularly hard in recent days by the ongoing spread of the coronavirus. The Giants closed their Scottsdale Stadium facility on Friday because of coronavirus concerns and players who remained in the area had already begun to return to their hometowns, knowing the next stop would be Oracle Park. 

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The Giants plan to return to Oracle Park for a three-week Spring Training 2.0, before embarking on a season that will include only games against NL West and AL West opponents. 

While this has dragged on much longer than expected, Giants officials have repeatedly told players to stay ready. They are confident the players are in shape for a second spring, with the expectation that they'll have about a week to get to San Francisco, where ramped-up COVID-19 testing can begin.

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MLB set to return after commissioner Rob Manfred imposes 2020 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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