Major League Baseball, which is holding ongoing discussions with the players’ association, has advised players to leave spring training facilities and return to their homes.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network first tweeted the news. Reports have since emerged indicating that players have been so advised by their respective teams.
This reverses the general direction of expectations from earlier on Friday. Multiple team leaders had indicated to reporters that they expected to keep players at their spring facilities for at least the next several days. Even with spring games scratched, there was evidently some thought given to keeping players around to continue training.
Precisely what precipitated this new decision isn’t yet known, but it did not make much sense to keep players gathered if a lengthy delay is inevitable. Maintaining the health and safety of players and employees is surely the top priority as MLB seeks to play its part in stemming the spread of the coronavirus.
There is an obvious desire not to delay the start of the upcoming season longer than necessary. To this point, MLB has not formally announced an expansion of its previously announced two-week delay. But fully breaking up spring camp makes that a mere formality.
Both major- and minor-league players will be sent out of team facilities. Just when they will return is anyone’s guess, but it seems clear that some kind of additional spring training ramp-up will be required before the 2020 season gets underway.
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