MLB to delay opening by at least two weeks, cancels spring training

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The stadium is partially empty during the opening season game between Los Leones de Caracas and Los Tigres de Aragua in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. A deepening crisis has left her nation in shambles, and a recent curve ball from the Trump administration has prevented big league players in the MLB from taking the field, stripping away star-power that fans have come to expect over decades. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(AP) — Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it will be delaying the start of the 2020 season by at least two weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Statement from MLB:

“Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans. 

“MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days. As of 4:00 p.m. (ET) today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.

“MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

MLB had continued to play into Thursday, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he strongly recommended to local authorities and organizers that they limit all mass gatherings.

The major league season had been scheduled to start March 26, its earliest opening other than for international games.

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