Coronavirus: MLB advises non-roster players to return home, urges teams to avoid group workouts

MLB is expected to advise teams to cease all organized workouts when the league releases updated policies on Monday in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The league on Thursday announced it was suspending spring training play and pushing the start of the regular season back by at least two weeks. MLB said Friday that players could return home from spring training, and it appears more guidelines are coming soon.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted out the memo that MLB recently sent to all 30 teams. Here are the key takeaways from that memo:

  • MLB and the Players' Association (MLBA) are continuing discussions on how to proceed. As of the Saturday memo, no agreement had been reached. 
  • MLB will hold a conference call with clubs on Monday at noon E.T. to provide further updates and perhaps additional mandates designed to control spread of the virus within affiliated baseball. 
  • MLB is presently advising teams to "avoid all activities in which players congregate in significant numbers or are otherwise unable to practice the "social distancing" protocols recommended by the CDC."
  • Non-roster players -- i.e., players in camp but not on the 40-man roster -- are being advised to return home if possible. If those non-roster players are unable to return home because of travel restrictions or travel complications, then the team in question "should work with the player to provide suitable accommodations." Non-roster players who are receiving ongoing medical treatment from training staff may remain in at the facilities. 
  • As for players on the 40-man roster, the memo states that "pursuant to our understanding with the Players Association, 40-Man Roster players must be permitted to remain at the Club's Spring Training site, and are eligible to receive their usual Spring Training allowances. (Those players currently on optional assignment should receive allowances in accordance with the past practice of the Club.) We understand that many 40-Man Roster players have chosen to remain in camp to date, but we anticipate that may change in the coming days as events continue to unfold and players become better educated about current conditions."
  • These guidelines will remain in effect until at least the Monday conference call with teams. 

On Friday, MLB gave players in camp three choices on how to proceed: stay around their team's spring training facility; return to their offseason homes; or return to their team's home city. The Saturday memo marks a change in policy for MLB, particularly with regard to non-roster players. 

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, CBS News reports

CBS News has the latest updates about the virus, which has affected various sports globally and in the United States and has caused more than 4,000 fatalities worldwide. Here at CBS Sports we have running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories