The shutdown from coronavirus (COVID-19) has moved so quickly that MLB teams haven't even been able to keep their employees up to date. But on Monday morning, the league admitted something that had become clear. The 2020 season won't start until May at the earliest.
In a statement put out Monday morning, the league said it will comply with the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. While there was no timetable given by the league, that is a huge extension of the original two-week delay for Opening Day, and would seem to push the first games back closer to June. After an eight-week layoff, players -- particularly pitchers -- would need some time to ramp back up and get ready for games.
"MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead," the league said. "The Clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins. We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit. MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus."
Commissioner Rob Manfred conducted a conference call with the 30 clubs on Monday morning to discuss the latest developments. Teams had already begun dispersing, including the Giants, who sent their minor leaguers home last week and have started to see big leaguers leave the Scottsdale area.
The latest CDC recommendations made the reality particularly glaring for baseball, even if you account for the possibility that games could be played without fans and the media. Even if you only include the players from two teams, you're already at 52 people.