Major League Baseball officials have been forced to reconsider plans surrounding a potential return in 2020 after several positive COVID-19 tests impacted the league on Friday.
As first reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond and Ben Cohen, MLB’s previously considered “bubble” plan for the 2020 season is back on the table. We’ve also learned that MLB is temporarily shutting down all spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona.
The revelation comes after 11 players on 40-man rosters from seven different teams tested positive for COVID-19 during the month of June. Of those seven teams tested, two are based in Texas, four train in Florida and the other team holds spring training in Arizona. That’s noteworthy since those three states were previously considered as host sites in a potential bubble league where several teams would converge in one central area.
Now, the league may be eyeing Southern California as a possible destination for all 30 teams.
This person familiar with baseball’s thinking said that MLB could look at Southern California as a potential site. The region has three MLB stadiums—Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Angel Stadium in Anaheim and Petco Park in San Diego—as well as several colleges with quality ballparks. It’s still unclear whether the “bubble” plan will become serious enough for the league to broach with the union.
Money has been the focus of recent discussions between MLB and the MLB players association, but concerns about health and safety issues have remained prominent in anticipation of a second wave of coronavirus cases. Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci advised MLB to plan on its ending season — postseason included — by the end of September, in order to curb risks associated with a second wave.
MLB close spring training sites
Unfortunately. MLB is already seeing a spike of cases within its own ranks, and it has come well before any attempt to restart a full-fledged training camp.
That development led to the shutdown of all 30 spring training facilities for deep a cleaning and a reassessment of protocols.
Major League Baseball will close all spring training sites in Arizona and Florida for deep cleaning and will not permit players or staff members until they pass a COVID-19 test.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 20, 2020
Earlier on Friday we learned that at least five Philadelphia Phillies players have tested positive. That led the Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays to close their Florida training facilities immediately. The San Francisco Giants quickly followed also closed their Scottsdale, Ariz. facility after a person who had been at the facility and a family member exhibited COVID-19 symptoms. The Astros also confirmed one of their players tested positive.
The Los Angeles Angels, whose home ballpark would host games if the talked about bubble plan is implemented, learned two players tested positive on Friday.
Camps had slowly started reopening in late May. Though as Sherman noted, those reopenings came without strict guidelines or protocols in place. At this point, the league is looking at a complete re-evaluation that may ultimately determine how feasible a safe return to the field will be in 2020.
Mets, Yankees to hold spring training in New York
With uncertainty everywhere in baseball right now, teams were already making alternate plans. Count the New York teams among them.
As Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday, if the MLB season happens, both the Mets and Yankees will hold spring training at their respective home ballparks.
As we wait on a decision from the @MLB on the baseball season, I'm excited to announce that the @Yankees and the @Mets will resume their training here in New York for the first time in years.
NY will review the teams' plans to make sure the trainings are safe.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 20, 2020
That announcement came shortly the New York Post reported four Yankees’ employees based in Tampa, Fla. tested positive for COVID-19. Two members work at George M. Steinbrenner Field and two have ties to the nearby minor league complex, according to the report.
The Red Sox also plan on moving their spring training to Boston, according to team president Sam Kennedy.
Sam Kennedy tells me Red Sox will have their resumption of spring training in Boston.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) June 20, 2020
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, it’s expected that all 30 teams will ultimately hold spring training at their home ballparks barring a league mandated change.
It’s the latest reminder that baseball has more than one problem it needs to figure out before getting back on the field for 2020.
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