MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday that baseball, which is dark due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), will return "when it is safe to play." He gave clues as to when he would like that to happen.
Manfred also offered hints about a new 2020 schedule while speaking from Florida with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt on "SportsCenter." It was understandably short on detail, but offered enough for others to discover three key points:
The season could start in late spring.
"My optimistic view is that sometime in May we will be preparing. We will have to make a determination, depending on what the precise date is, as to how much period of preparation we need," Manfred said the night before the season began.
A second four-week spring training in May would mean an opening in June, which is what ESPN reported Wednesday that was being discussed between the team owners and the MLB Players Association.
Teams will not play 162 games.
"The goal would be to get as many regular season games as possible and think creatively about how we can achieve that goal," he said.
If the game started in June, there would be about 80 games left until the scheduled end of September 27 of the regular season. The talk on creative thinking adds credibility to speculation that MLB will add days to the season and push the playoffs into November or December. Postseason games could then be played in hot climates or vaulted neutral sites.
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This year's calendar could go crazy.
"(We've) had some really positive conversations with our player association about how to relax some of the rules that govern our schedule. They are very focused on playing again and playing as many games as possible. And when you have that kind of positive dialogue, it creates an opportunity to do things that are a little bit different, "said Manfred.
That follows recent reports that players agree to play double games to make up for postponed games and get as close to 162 as possible. Manfred did not reject a suggestion by Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins that the doubleheads of The major leagues this year are two seven innings games, which is how they normally play in the minor leagues.