The news changes by the day as the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 creates major disruptions to everyday life. And baseball players are no different than the reset of us.
Reports Friday suggested that players in Major League spring training have been told that they can return home rather than stay at their spring training facilities. That’s new from the day before, when it was expected that spring games would be cancelled but players would remain in camps and train – without baseball activities.
Some national reports from multiple different outlets and reporters said that players will be allowed to go to the city of their home ballpark, stay at the team’s spring complex, or go to their home city.
When MLB cancelled spring games and pushed back the start of the regular season was, some reported thoughts were that the league would hope to resume in the second week of April. That might prove to be optimistic, and one report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan now says that some inside the league are thinking more like May for the timeline.
A slight correction to what's out there: players have the option to return home but they are also allowed to stay in camp. Facilities are supposed to remain open but may not be fully staffed.
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) March 13, 2020
If players are going home now – and they would presumably need a truncated spring training to get ready for an eventual opener – it puts the mid-April timeline in definite jeopardy. And presumably we would need to feel better as a community about the status of the global pandemic before we were to return to ‘normal’ large gatherings of sporting events with crowds.
Given how rapidly the news has evolved over the past week, perhaps the safest thing to say is that we don’t yet know when MLB will be back in action.