Coronavirus: MLB players allowed to leave spring training sites with Opening Day delayed

Major League Baseball on Friday informed teams that major-league and minor-league players would be allowed to leave spring training and return home until further notice because of the growing threat from novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a league-issued press release. The decision came after MLB held an afternoon meeting with the players union. Players have three options: staying around their team's spring training facility; returning to their offseason homes; and returning to their team's home city. 

Here's the league's statement in whole:

After an in-person meeting with MLBPA officials in Arizona, Major League Baseball announced today that Spring Training camps will be suspended, effective immediately.  Major League players can elect to return home, remain in their Spring Training cities, or return to their Club's home city.  This step is in the best interests of players, employees and the communities who host Spring Training.

MLB will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts.  We send our best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by coronavirus.

MLB shut down spring training in Arizona and Florida and announced the delay of Opening Day for that same reason on Thursday. Opening Day, which was originally scheduled for March 26, will take place no sooner than April 9. ESPN's Jeff Passan hears from multiple MLB sources that games aren't likely to be played before May. Considering that there's no clear timeline and players will require another ramp-up period before being ready for game action, even May could be optimistic.

White Sox GM Rick Hahn has said all MLB player transactions have been frozen at least through the coming weekend. 

Some teams also announced plans to close their spring training facilities over the weekend to deep clean them as a precaution.

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

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

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