Among the spate of cancellations and changes in the sports world, Major League Baseball has been oddly silent on their plans regarding the coronavirus outbreak. It appears that silence could be broken as soon as Thursday: rumors are swirling that MLB Commisioner Rob Manfred is preparing to announce a postponement of spring training, which could become effective immediately.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman was one of the first to report the speculation on Twitter, saying members Florida’s Grapefruit League are expecting games to be suspended. Jared Diamond, a baseball writer for the Wall Street Journal also posted on Twitter that MLB officials have spent most of Thursday morning meeting about the topic.
“Baseball officials have been meeting all day on its coronavirus plan. The expectation is that there will be some sort of announcement today.”
Other writers covering the sport are almost uniformly in agreement that something is going to be done, it’s going to be done soon, and it will almost certainly involve suspending this year’s spring training for at least a few weeks.
While the buzz around this suspected scheduling change is too new to be getting a ton of reaction from athletes, a few Cubs players, including Jason Heyward, spoke to Chicago media about the news.
MLB.com‘s Cubs reporter Jordan Bastian shared on Twitter that he spoke with the outfielder, who seemed perfectly willing to accept whatever postponement was needed.
“I think if they move stuff back and they say pause for a second, then I feel like we all know and trust that it’s within good reason. If that means we’ve got to start later, then so be it. We’ve just got to be safe.”
Heyward added that while he’s concerned for players’ safety, he’s even more concerned for his and his teammates’ families. He talked about his parents, who are in their sixties, and mentioned little kids that might normally be around the team.
If Major League Baseball does suspend its spring training, it would fall in line with what has been happening all week in the sports world. The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night, and went from one confirmed case of coronavirus infection to two in a matter of hours.
MLS and the PGA Tour both suspended their seasons on Thursday morning. Several NCAA conference tournaments were canceled after originally planning on playing without fans. MLB has taken some flack on social media for not changing its plans for spring training because of those other announcements. The league might be about to change that.