Gregor: Is the time right for Major League Baseball to return?
On a conference call last week, new White Sox designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion sure sounded like he was close to getting ramped up for an abbreviated season.
Encarnacion has been hitting by himself in a cage at his home in La Romana, Dominican Republic, since the coronavirus pandemic halted baseball on March 12.
The 37-year-old DH is ready to start training with a larger group of players this week at his baseball academy in nearby Santo Domingo.
"Whenever they say we are going to go, we are going to start working at the facility, a couple of guys from the Dominican," Encarnacion said. "We talked about that already. We are waiting maybe until next week, so we are going to be working together, a couple of players. It's going to be a great idea.
"It's a lot of the players that I know. They take care of themselves, so everything will be safe there. We are waiting and seeing if we can start next week."
Encarnacion -- and the rest of the Major League Baseball Players Association -- could be hearing it is officially time to get ready for another spring training, followed by an abbreviated regular season, on Tuesday.
In a USA Today report, MLB owners were scheduled to vote on a plan Monday to resume baseball. Expected to be approved, it would then be up to the MLBPA to sign off and get the game going again.
Under terms of the new plan, teams would share at least 48% of the revenue made this season with the players.
According to USA Today, the historic revenue-sharing plan is integral to diminish financial losses with games potentially being played without fans. MLB officials project teams are expected to lose about 40% of their gross revenue from ticket sales, concessions and parking.
In a reopening plan floated in late April, baseball would resume on June 10 with spring training, likely to be held at each major-league team's home stadium.
Opening Day would be July 1.
Encarnacion was asked how long it would take to get ready after a layoff expected to run three months.
"It isn't going to take more than three weeks," he said. "If they give us three weeks, I think I'd be grateful."
White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone liked the plan that was leaked in late April, but he made a good point.
"There will be three, four, five or 10 more plans before they decide on anything," Stone said.
In the newest report, baseball is still going to have another spring training next month and aim to start the regular season on or around July 1.
A big change is sticking with the traditional National League and American League setup with three divisions in each league.
Three leagues (East, Central, West) with 10 teams each was presented in the late April plan.
The new idea goes back to the regular format, but teams would only play opponents in their division and the corresponding geographical division.
For example, the Cubs would play the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds and Pirates in the NL Central and the White Sox, Twins, Indians, Tigers and Royals in the AL Central.
USA Today reported owners have agreed to expand the postseason from 10 teams to 14 teams, adding an extra wild-card round.
Owners also agreed on using a universal designated hitter, and rosters will be expanded from 26 to 30. Teams will also have a 20-man taxi squad comprised of minor-league prospects.
Safety is going to play a major role in getting baseball back up and running.
Players want to make sure there is testing in place, but they also don't want to take needed testing away from those that need it in the public.
If games are able to resume, they are expected to be played in empty stadiums for an undetermined amount of time.
On his Twitter account, Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle expressed major concern about the dangers of coming back.
"We don't have a vaccine yet, and we don't really have any effective anti-viral treatments," Doolittle wrote. "What happens if there is a second wave? Hopefully we can come up with BOTH a proactive health plan focused on prevention AND a reactive plan aimed at containment."