Major League Baseball will send to players an outline of plans for player safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the detailed outline covers 80 pages and provides a step-by-step return to spring training and beyond.
Owners approved restarting spring training with a goal of beginning the 2020 regular around July 1. Under the plan, teams can hold spring training at their home ballparks or return to their usual spring training facilities in Florida or Arizona in mid-June.
The players association will review the player safety proposal this week, per reports, with the all-important discussion around financial fallout from a shortened season yet to take place.
Should games begin in July, fans will not be present in ballparks, and there is question as to whether all home stadiums will be available to host players-only games. Los Angeles County is expected to extend a stay-at-home order into July, which would impact the Los Angeles Dodgers and every team because the All-Star Game is scheduled to be held at Dodger Stadium on July 14. The game could be canceled or moved on the calendar or to a new venue.
Other states are opening the door for sports to come back even sooner.
In Georgia, Florida and Arizona, governors have said there will be no limitations on baseball teams taking the field, provided social distancing and sanitization protocol can be established. Still, those games would not include fans.
Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle expressed detailed concerns about a return to play given evidence that COVID-19 can cause permanent lung damage. He also said MLB must address frequency and volume of testing without taking away tests from the public at large and how a “second wave” of the coronavirus would be addressed.
MLBPA executive board member Andrew Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals had similar thoughts.
Miller said in an ESPN interview that he’s not supportive of a return until safety is guaranteed. The NBA reportedly shared with its players on Friday that there will need to be a level of understanding around the likelihood of at least some positive tests.
“I don’t think anything can be done until safety can be guaranteed and we feel comfortable with it,” Miller said. “We want to put a good product on the field, but that’s totally secondary to the health of the players. We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn’t mean our staff is, that doesn’t mean umpires are going to be in the clear.”
Baseball is being played in South Korea, but with several measures in place designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Players are tested daily, umpires wear masks, spitting is banned and high-fives are prohibited.
—Field Level Media