Although MLB and the MLBPA have not yet reached a return to play agreement, the 30 clubs have decided to shift their spring training camps to their major league ballparks in their home cities, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Clubs have the option to hold training camp in their home city or at their spring training site.
“We’re all hopeful that Major League Baseball will start their season, or part of a season. They’re in conversation now and we’re expecting updates this week,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said during is Saturday press briefing. “(The Mets and Yankees) are planning to have their spring training camp in New York.”
The Yankees later confirmed they will indeed hold spring training at Yankee Stadium. The team released the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon, the New York Yankees will hold a potential spring training resumption at Yankee Stadium. We will continue to follow Major League Baseball’s guidelines and protocols, and we will vigilantly work with Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and their health authorities, as well as with federal officials and Major League Baseball’s own medical and infectious disease experts, to ensure our facility maintains the best possible safety standards.
The health and safety of our players, staff and employees, and of their respectively families, will always be our top priority.”
Cuomo later added New York will review the Yankees’ and Mets’ health and safety plans to ensure spring training is safe. Other states have not yet confirmed any plans to host spring training at major league ballparks.
The collective decision to shift spring training comes one day after the Angels, Astros, Phillies, and Blue Jays announced several players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. MLB ordered all spring training sites closed and disinfected Friday night, and personnel must test negative for COVID-9 before being allowed to return.
Spring training complexes have multiple fields and multiple clubhouses, allowing for easy social distancing. That is not the case at major league stadiums. All players must share one field — teams are expected to have 30-man active rosters and a 20-man taxi squad in 2020 — and clubhouse space is more limited. Even with staggered workouts, space can be an issue.
It’s unclear how the Diamondbacks, Marlins and Rays will handle spring training. They could remain in Arizona and Florida, their home states, or train at a neutral site somewhere. Also, Canada has a 14-day mandatory quarantine for international travelers, which figures to shape the Blue Jays’ spring training plans.
All 30 teams hold spring training in Arizona and Florida, two states that have experienced significant spikes in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Arizona reported a record 3,246 new cases Friday and Florida reported 4,049 new cases Saturday, a new record. COVID-19 cases are on the rise generally in the south and southwest.
MLB and the MLBPA are currently negotiating a return to play agreement, with number of games the big obstacle. The two sides must still hammer out health and safety protocols as well.