While it’s way too early to predict what could happen with the 2020 MLB season thanks to the coronavirus, Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro floated the idea of a second spring training before the resumption of a regular season down the line.
Though MLB officials had unofficially been looking at the resumption of play around Memorial Day, the fact that the number of cases keeps rising as more testing comes online doesn’t bode well for a holiday resumption—especially with folks like Shapiro saying that at least four weeks of spring training practices and exhibition games will be needed before players are in game shape. By down the line, we’re clearly looking at a “spring” training coming in late May at the earliest—and a regular-season launch closer to the peak of summer than the start of the summer. From AP:
“Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, but most importantly just throwing, and probably limited access to just training and exercise, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks,” Shapiro said in a teleconference with Toronto reporters.
Shapiro cautioned that training camps aren’t likely to reopen for some time yet.
“I do think that we’re, by and large, waiting for some sort of flattening of the curve and recognition that we have done our best to limit the strain on the healthcare system and the economic system,” he said. “Until that time, the exact outcome and impact on our schedule, and all of the corresponding business that cascades off that, really can’t be determined.
“It certainly looks like we are not dealing with days and likely not weeks, but closer to months,” he said.
It is hard to imagine that any truncated “spring” training not take place at team camps in Florida and Arizona, however. There’s more to prepping for the season than a few weeks of exhibition games: an entire farm system needs to be assembled as well.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We’re not at the point where any estimate of a season-opening date is little more than a shot in the dark. And it’s hard to see a truncated spring training where there’s much, if any, fan interaction. The lesson here: don’t look for a quick resolution to the MLB shutdown, but hope for the best.