Major League Baseball has canceled spring training and delayed opening day by at least two weeks over concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
Spring training will stop as of 4 p.m. ET Thursday. MLB made the announcement after commissioner Rob Manfred’s call with owners.
The NBA became the first major American league to suspend its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, and other sports’ governing bodies have since moved quickly to cancel other competitions such as college basketball conference tournaments and soccer matches.
The decision came down from the league as teams played Grapefruit League games in front of crowds around Florida’s spring training camps. MLB’s regular season had been scheduled to begin on March 26.
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward told reporters players would support caution. “We just want to be safe,” he said.
The league had been considering fallback options in case early season games could not be played at their scheduled locations. It was already known that the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics would have to move their home-opening series.
After the NBA’s outbreak, things appeared to move more rapidly toward a wider response.
Earlier reports indicated that some teams began to pull scouts off the road and send them home because of coronavirus concerns on Wednesday.
“You know, if something happened during the season to a player, it’s at least two weeks they have to wait in quarantine, everybody,” Todd Frazier told reporters Wednesday. “It could be a crazy season for a team, because if you miss 14 days, that’s basically 12, 13 games of baseball, you basically can’t get back or have to start over at the end of the year. We’ll see what happens.”
Minor League Baseball season suspended
Hours after the announcement from MLB, Minor League Baseball officials decided to the delay the start of the regular season until April 9.
There’s no word from MLB or MiLB on whether the games missed will be made up or the leagues will go on with a shortened season.
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