Major League Baseball suspends spring training operations


Major League Baseball is suspending spring training operations altogether, the latest step taken by the league to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid the global pandemic.

The announcement, made after the league consulted with the players union, comes a day after the commissioner's office canceled the remainder of spring training games and delayed the start of the regular season by "at least" two weeks.

Despite the end of the Cactus and Grapefruit League schedules and the uncertainty over when the 2020 season would actually begin, several teams kept their spring training facilities open and continued to have players work and prepare for Opening Day. The league brought that activity to an end Friday.

Major league players have the choice to return home or remain in Arizona or Florida.

It's the latest example of how quickly things are changing in these unprecedented circumstances. Earlier in the day, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn laid out his expectations, which were forced to change as the circumstances did as the day moved along.

"We're going to wait to see what the coming days hold, but for now everybody's going to stay here," Hahn said hours before the league's latest sweeping action. "Obviously they all have access to medical professionals very easily. We have a contained environment here at the complex, which is beneficial right now. So for the time being, everyone's going to stay put, and we'll reevaluate that along with Major League Baseball and the Players Association over the course of the coming days."

Things obviously were reevaluated. Though Hahn did comment on what would happen if there were players who did want to go home.

"We're all human beings who have families and understandable discomfort living in an uncertain world right now," he said. "We're open to anyone expressing whatever needs they might have from a family standpoint or psychological standpoint or whatever.

"Unfortunately this is one of the rare occurrences where it's larger than baseball, the issues we're dealing with. Therefore we're going to continue to be flexible."

Flexibility is going to be the name of the game as so much remains unknown, and that goes for deep into the season, once it does start.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information out of the discussions between the league and union Friday was reporting that another round of spring training will likely be required once it's determined when the season will start. So even once it's OK for baseball games to start being played again, it's not like the season will immediately begin. Players will again need a ramp-up period to get their bodies ready for the regular season.

How long of a ramp-up period? Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters it could be around three or four weeks, which would add almost a full additional month to the wait for the season to begin.

"It's really dependent on how long the hiatus is," Hahn said, discussing the potential of more exhibition games being needed to get players into regular-season shape at the end of the delay. "If, for example, there's only a modest, couple-of-week delay, then certainly we've played a decent amount of games (during spring training to this point). We've got guys with their legs under them, we've got guys who have built to a certain level. It's a matter of sort of maintaining that and then building off it. So it wouldn't be an extremely long period of (additional spring) games at that point.

"Obviously if things change and for whatever reason people return home and we return at a later date, it's really going to be a function of how long that hiatus is."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.
Contact Us