How delayed start to Triple-A season affects Giants, A's

Joey Bart, Giants

Triple-A ballplayers will have to add another month to their long awaited return to game action.

MLB announced Tuesday night that it has pushed back the start of the Triple-A season to the first week of May. The Las Vegas Aviators, who are affiliated with the A’s, will begin their season on May 6 against the Giants-affiliated Sacramento River Cats instead of April 8 as the country continues to navigate the pandemic.

"This is a prudent step to complete the Major League and Minor League seasons as safely as possible, and we look forward to having fans back in ballparks across the country very soon," Morgan Sword, MLB's executive VP of baseball operations, said in a statement.

After the entire minor league season was wiped out in 2020, Triple-A will now begin around the same time frame as Double-A and Single-A ballclubs. COVID-19 policies are rapidly changing around the country, with various states easing restrictions or announcing forthcoming changes, so expect this to be a fluid situation going forward. 

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the missed games are expected to be made up at the tail end of the season in September. Passan also reported that alternate sites with estimated 24-player capacities will be renewed.

“This incarnation of the alt site is likelier to skew older -- major league veterans and ascendant prospects who are on the cusp of the major leagues,” Passan wrote. “Lower-level minor league players plan to report to spring training toward the end of March, after major league teams have vacated the facilities, and will prepare for their seasons in Arizona and Florida.”

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From a pure baseball perspective, clubs will have to be patient after losing another month for their top prospects. The Triple-A players will also have to resort to essentially an extended spring training without games, before a few of them inevitably get called up to the big leagues, which could be a tough transition.

Joey Bart seems like a longshot to make the Giants as the team’s second catcher out of spring training so he will need to make the most of his game experience in Arizona. The A’s have a host of outfielders who appear to be on the cusp of making Oakland’s roster, but there only appears to be one true reserve outfield spot open, if any.

As if players didn’t need more motivation to make the big-league roster, this announcement just adds a little more fuel to the fire.

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