Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring training has been suspended and Opening Day has been pushed back to at least mid-May, and that remains subject to change as the situation develops.
In an effort to play as many games as possible, MLB and the MLBPA will consider all options, and . Playing games with protective masks is another option, and Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed says the players would be open to that.
"I'll be up for anything at this point just to be able to play," Ahmed explained Tuesday during a video conference. "If they said, 'Hey, you can start games on May 15th or June 1st, but you have to wear masks.' If that's the only thing holding us back then sure, guys would do it."
"If it comes to playing with no fans for a little while, as much as that would be extremely weird and strange, we'd be open to it," Ahmed said. "Hopefully it wouldn't have to last a long time but to get more games in and get games on TV for fans to watch, we're all for that."
Nippon Pro Baseball in Japan and the Korea Baseball Organization have resumed spring workouts in recent weeks and the players are wearing protective masks in some cases. There are mask shortages in several parts of the country, however, and giving them to MLB players rather than medical professionals during a pandemic creates bad optics at best and is morally abhorrent at worst.
That said, MLB will not be able to play games (with or without fans in attendance) until COVID-19 is contained, at which point mask availability may not be an issue. If it's safe and there are enough masks available so as to not compromise the ongoing battle against the pandemic, and it brings baseball back sooner, then by all means, let's do it. Play games with masks.
. Right now though, there are no indications spring training will resume anytime soon, and it's unclear how many regular season games can be played in 2020, if any.