Play ball in May? Major League Baseball mulling options
Major League Baseball is going to be back at some point.
The obvious question is, when?
According to a story by ESPN.com's Jeff Passan, owners and the MLB Players Association have been discussing a plan that could get the season going at some point in May.
Baseball was shut down March 12 by the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan, according to ESPN, would base all 30 teams in Phoenix, where Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondback is located as well as 10 stadiums used during spring training.
That includes Sloan Park, the Cubs' spring home, and Camelback Ranch, which the White Sox share with the Dodgers.
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where Arizona State plays baseball, would be another option.
"If that's the plan, I'm going to do it," White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez said on a conference call Tuesday. "I just want to play."
According to ESPN, "Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return."
An abbreviated spring training of two to three weeks would likely be needed before games resume.
After that, regular season games would conceivably be played with no fans in the stands, and with players and staff living in isolation at hotels while only traveling to and from stadiums.
"I don't know," said Jimenez, who is still in Arizona. "To me, playing (in front) of fans, that's why I want to play hard every single day, for them. I enjoy talking to them. I don't know how it's going to be if we play without fans.
"We want to play a normal, regular season, like travel and all that, and play for our city. "I just want to play baseball, If they decide to sty here, I'm going to enjoy it."
Playing in May presents numerous obstacles, and that's why there is no firm decision.
"MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so," the commissioner's office said in a statement Tuesday. "While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan."
In the coming days and weeks, baseball should gain more and more clarity on the right time to start playing.
"While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the players' association," MLB said. "We are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus."
When the time is right to resume play, gathering all 30 major league teams in Arizona makes the most sense since there would no air travel.
"It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide major league baseball to America," agent Scott Boras told The Associated Press. "I think players are willing to do what's necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.
"It gives them a sense of a return to some normalcy."
If MLB is going to ask players to report to Arizona without their families, that could be an instant deal breaker.
"It begins and ends right (there)," veteran Brewers starting pitcher Brett Anderson wrote on Twitter about players possibly being separated from their families.