Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
MLB announced on Thursday that it was suspending operations and would delay the regular season by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. A day later, the key phrase in that announcement was clearly "at least."
Team executives and employees are scrambling to formulate plans, but conversations over the past 24 hours with multiple club officials revealed a common thread:
No one in baseball seems to expect games in April. The state of Illinois has already banned large public gatherings until May, and it stands to reason that more states could follow. No one knows how long the pandemic will disrupt everyday life, and the league hasn't made any concrete plans for how to move forward.
Some teams held workouts for players on Friday, while others urged personnel to remain home. Most, if not all, organizations held meetings or conference calls to discuss plans, including the Yankees and Mets.
Several teams expect to send many baseball operations employees home shortly.
Whenever teams are able to start playing again, they will need to get into game shape. This late in spring training, most pitchers are essentially built up to regular season shape.
The challenge now will be to maintain that during workouts, intrasquad games and ultimately perhaps time at home away from the team.
Naturally, the longer this suspension lasts, the more time players will need to prepare. One team official suggested that the shortened spring training in 1995, following the players' strike, could serve as a model. Clubs could start the season with expanded rosters allowing for more pitchers.
All of those decisions will come later. At this point, the only thing that seems clear is that baseball will be gone for a while.