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MLB orders delayed start to Triple-A season

Minor League Baseball logoMLB is delaying the start of the Triple-A season from early April to early May, with Triple-A facilities instead hosting MLB alternate training sites, featuring workouts for taxi squads.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, for instance, will host the Philadelphia Phillies’ taxi squad beginning April 1, until a 2021 season opener on May 4. From the team’s statement:

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have been informed this evening about Major League Baseball’s decision to delay the start of the Triple-A season by approximately four weeks.  We are extremely disappointed but will continue to diligently prepare for the safe and eventual return of IronPigs baseball this Spring. 

Double-A and High/Low-A leagues were already slated to open on May 4, with training taking place in Florida and Arizona in April once the major leaguers broke camp. The Triple-A season was set to run 142 games, but with the delay a 120-game season–the same length as the AA/A season–will be played through Sept. 21. (Yes, this is now confirmed; a previous version of this story said this was an early expectation, not a final decision.)

MLB has not yet announced the addition of taxi squads, which are expected to be made up of veteran players, rather than an abundance of prospects. The move to delay the Triple-A season is billed as a matter of safety for players, according to some MiLB press releases.

“We aren’t surprised that MLB has delayed the start of the season, but we are pleased that we now have some extra time to plan given how quickly things are evolving,” said John Traub, Isotopes Vice President & General Manager, via press release. “Our community is so excited about us being able to play after nearly 600 days without a game. We share their excitement and are continuing to work with State and City officials on our Covid-Safe Practices and reopening protocols. The return of Isotopes Baseball promises to be a wonderful and emotional day for all of us.”

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