REPORT: MLB expected to start Spring Training as planned

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner
Jun 8, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner (11) watches his two run home run against the New York Mets during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report from The Athletic, Major League Baseball is expected to start Spring Training and the Regular Season on time despite COVID-19 concerns. Previous rumors indicated a possibility of the season getting pushed back.

Many owners had pushed for a delayed start to the season, while the Players Association disagreed. The MLBPA believes that players can adequately follow the same protocols set in the shortened 2020 season. By social distancing, wearing masks, and frequent testing, MLB managed to have a mostly problem-free 2020 season.

Players are scheduled to report to Spring Training facilities in mid-February for an April 1 Opening Day. The league is expected to play a full 162-game schedule, meaning teams will play in home stadiums and travel as usual.

Most stadiums are likely to start the season with limited attendance, with numbers hopefully increasing as the season progresses. If the COVID-19 vaccine works and projections are accurate, teams could be allowed to host a full attendance by September.

Statements from MLB and the MLBPA to The Athletic are provided below:

MLB: “We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”

MLBPA: “As we’ve made clear to the league on multiple occasions, we expect Spring Training and the Regular Season to start on time and as scheduled, consistent with our CBA. The league does not have the authority or legal bias to unilaterally delay or shorten the schedule without Players’ consent. While there will continue to be challenges, our Players have proven they can safely play a season under difficult circumstances, as have the other sports. The Commissioner’s Office has assured us that they have instructed Clubs to prepare for an on time start.”