By Steven S. Garcia
Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- In light of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, MLB has announced that they canceled the rest of Spring Training and the first few weeks of the regular season.
The day before the announcement was made, players were told to avoid any unnecessary traveling. On Friday, after a meeting between MLB and the MLB Players Association, all 30 MLB clubs informed their players that play would be suspended and they could leave their Spring Training sites in Arizona and Florida. Players have the choice of staying at their Spring Training facilities, going to their team’s home cities, or return to their offseason homes.
Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein spent most of Friday helping players, staff, and other team personnel with their travel arrangements.
Epstein said, “I don’t think most of us had a chance to process it yet. It’s all so new and changing rapidly. And it’s such a heavy subject and there are so many serious ramifications, not just for our organization, not just for our industry, but for society as a whole. Most of the day we just spent trying to get as much information as possible and make the best decisions possible, using the guiding principles of the following science using empathy and being as transparent as possible.”
An MLB official said, “This step is in the best interests of players, employees, and the communities that host Spring Training. MLB will continue to monitor the events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by health experts. We send our best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by coronavirus.”
The NBA, NHL, and MLS have also joined in with suspending their seasons. NCAA basketball announced that their March Madness tournament is canceled indefinitely.
White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn said, “Look, none of us here are focused right now on any selfish interests or what may be lost in terms of opportunity. Instead, I think we’re focused on providing whatever physical and emotional support is needed for players or staff to get through what is a difficult time beyond the world of baseball.”
“We hope to be back to playing games real soon. We know we’ll get through this. We know there’s another side of this at some point. It makes sense for the greater good of society as a whole to delay that for a period of time. We understand that. We know where we fit in and we look forward to, when the time is right, bringing a great deal of happiness to people who will certainly be missing the game and in need of something to pick them up, in all probability.”
Earlier today, it was announced that an unnamed Yankees prospect has tested positive for coronavirus. The team confirmed the diagnosis to multiple reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. The player, who is in the minor leagues, became the first known MLB-affiliated player to test positive for the virus that was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. He informed the Yankees that he had a fever on Friday and has been quarantined since.
As of now, we do know that the season will be delayed at least two weeks – maybe longer – and Spring Training could recommence as early as April 2. MLB is monitoring the situation and arranging backup plans regarding the overall regular-season schedule, which was supposed to start on March 26 with the Cubs taking on the Brewers in Milwaukee and the White Sox hosting the Kansas City Royals.
“And I think at the end of the day, all of us have a moment before you put your head on a pillow where you realize just how much has changed, and just what we’re all dealing with, and the potential consequences for society as a whole if we don’t all pull together and handle this in the best possible way. We’re all in this together,” said Epstein.
This will be the first time the regular season didn’t start on time since the 1994 players strike.