Major League Baseball joined the rest of the sports world Thursday, canceling the remainder of spring training and delaying the start of the regular season by at least two weeks because of the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the league said the action was "being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and our millions of loyal fans." The league will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season, but for now, the remainder of spring training games have been canceled and World Baseball Classic qualifiers have been postponed indefinitely.
The league and its 30 organizations have been preparing contingency plans and MLB announced that it would make further announcements about the schedule when it was warranted "with the hopes of resuming normal operations as soon as possible."
The announcement started to feel inevitable over the previous 24 hours. Early Wednesday, the Giants announced that they would not play exhibition games at Oracle Park or in Sacramento later this month. The A's sent a similar release in the evening after Alameda County banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people. In the meantime, the entire sports world started to shut down.
The NBA sent the biggest shockwave by suspending its season Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. A few hours later, players woke up to the news that Jazz star Donovan Mitchell had tested positive, as well. The NHL and Major League Soccer both paused operations Thursday morning.
The MLB season was scheduled to start March 26, with the Giants opening at Dodger Stadium that day, but even before MLB made its decision, the state of California had suggested that gatherings of more than 250 people be canceled.
The Giants were scheduled to play their home opener April 3. The A's were supposed to host the Twins on March 26 and start their season with a seven-game homestand.