MLB coronavirus shutdown: Four weeks needed for second spring training, Blue Jays president says
It also seems MLB and the MLBPA are closing in on a hiatus agreement
Nearly 10 days have passed since Major League Baseball suspended operations in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Opening Day, which had been scheduled for this Thursday, will instead (likely) take place at some point later in the year, depending on the effectiveness of the containment strategies imposed across the country in recent weeks.
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro held a conference call on Sunday and discussed some logistical aspects as it pertains to the season. The two major points of emphasis were: 1) the league hopes to have an agreement with the players union within the next two days; and 2) any season would be preceded by a four-week ramp-up period, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
The league and the union have to agree on a number of elements as it relates to a shortened or canceled season. That includes pay and service time, the metric that determines when any given player becomes eligible for arbitration and, later in their careers, free agency.
Shapiro's other point, about the second spring training, isn't too surprising. Pitchers have to stretch out and that process necessitates having a set date for the season. Obviously there's no way for pitchers to prepare at this point with so much up in the air. Theoretically, MLB could permit teams to use expanded rosters early on if they wanted to truncate the ramp-up period. It's anyone's guess as to whether that's a proposal that could be placed on the table.
It's worth noting that Boston Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said the league might consider playing games in front of empty stadiums. Kennedy also said the league would be open to playing deeper into the fall in order to get a full season in. Granted, a lot has happened in a relatively short time since Kennedy made his comments.
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