With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to unfold, longtime baseball executive Sandy Alderson is calling for a total shutdown at spring-training camps around Major League Baseball.
Like other professional sports leagues, MLB has had to make continual adjustments in light of the evolving response to coronavirus, or COVID-19. Over the weekend, MLB ordered home non-roster players from spring-training camps and eliminated team workouts, though allowed players on the 40-man rosters of their organizations to continue working out at camp. In the period since, the response to the pandemic has further evolved, with MLB announcing on Monday that it would follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to cancel gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, meaning that the launch of the 2020 season could occur around Memorial Day at the earliest.
Alderson, a former general manager for the Oakland A’s and New York Mets who now works as a senior advisor for the A’s, believes MLB should implement a total shutdown and send players home from camp. He not only argues that it is impractical for players to be camp in the wake of a delay to the season that will last for months, but also that MLB needs to set a better example as calls for the general population to practice social distancing continue to accelerate. More from the New York Post:
In recent days, a Yankees minor leaguer tested positive for coronavirus, necessitating a quarantine of players in the team’s minor league camp. In Port St. Lucie, about 20 Mets players worked out Monday morning after convening with team officials on a practice field. Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman were among the players later seen departing the complex.
“I would be surprised if anybody is in camp after the next two or three days, because No. 1 it doesn’t make any sense from a baseball standpoint, if the season is not going to start until maybe June 1,” Alderson said in a phone conversation. “And secondly it doesn’t make any sense in terms of setting an example for the rest of the population to have a bunch of athletes running around playing catch. That does not constitute social distancing.”
Due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, MLB last week canceled the remaining spring training games and initially said it expected the start of the season to be delayed at least two weeks. That estimate was revised Monday to concur with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that all gatherings of 50 people or more over the next eight weeks be canceled or postponed.
There has been a continual response around professional sports to the pandemic, with the NHL announcing Monday that players could return home and calling on them to self-isolate through March 27. As the situation continues to evolve, it seems possible that MLB will have to undertake further measures in response to COVID-19, perhaps including a total shutdown along the lines of Alderson believes should be implemented.
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