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OC Register: Arizona officials ask MLB to consider delaying the start of spring training because of COVID concerns

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Arizona government officials have asked Major League Baseball to delay the start of spring training in that state because of the current trajectory of the coronavirus, according to a letter published on Monday morning.

Neither Major League Baseball nor the Players’ Association have publicly responded. Neither side has shown any indication so far of a desire to delay the start of spring training, and players are particularly interested in ensuring a full 162 regular season games in order to collect their full salaries.

The letter, obtained and published by KPNX TV in Phoenix, was signed by Bridget Brinsbacher, Executive Director of the Cactus League, an association that works with Major League Baseball to host the 15 teams that train in Arizona.

It was also signed by the mayors or city managers of the eight cities that host teams, as well as the Maricopa Indian Community president, which hosts one two-team complex. The letter was dated on Friday.

“In view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County — with one of the nation’s highest infection rates — we believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the COVID-19 situation to improve here,” wrote Brinsbacher.

At the moment, the letter serves only as a recommendation to MLB, which so far has not given any indication of plans to delay the start of spring training. That could be affected by changes to state regulations, but right now the state is allowing sporting events to be played.

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes are currently playing games in Glendale, with limited attendance by fans. Glendale is also temporarily hosting the San Jose Sharks, which can’t play in Santa Clara County because of regulations there.

The NBA’s Phoenix Suns have also been playing, with a home game as recently as Saturday.

Despite that, the letter does cast some doubt over the start of spring training, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to begin workouts in about three weeks.

The Dodgers, who play in Glendale, are scheduled to report on Feb. 15. The Angels, whose complex is in Tempe, Ariz., are scheduled to have pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 16.

The Arizona groups’ suggestion of a delay is based partly on figures from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. According to that organization, Arizona is projected to have 9,712 daily infections on Feb. 15 and 3,072 on March 15.

Amid talk of a delay in Arizona, there are still 15 teams that hold spring training in Florida. If camps don’t open in Arizona, presumably the Florida teams would also be prohibited from opening.

Major League Baseball could also look into relocating the 15 Arizona teams for at least a portion of spring training, perhaps with workouts in California, Texas or Florida.

If a delay to spring training causes a delay to the start of the season, players would insist on making up those lost games. A limited number could be replaced with doubleheaders.

The regular season could also be extended into October, pushing the postseason into November. At least some of the postseason would then likely be moved to a neutral site, because of the weather. In 2020, much of the postseason was played in neutral sites so players could be isolated and the chance of infections reduced.

The other issue with moving the World Series into November is that Fox, which pays MLB more than $500 million a year for television rights, prefers to broadcast the World Series in October.

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Bubble Spring Training. It can't be that hard. Every team, including baseball, has successfully done that during COVD-19 times.

Also, if need be, have pitchers report normal time and position players a bit later. Pitchers are really the only ones that need to ramp up their innings in ST. Players only need 2-4 weeks to be ready.

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13 hours ago, Lou said:

I'm guessing it's more difficult to host games a bunch of days in a row than it is once a week or once every few days. 

I agree, but I do wonder how much MLB offered these cities to "request" a postponement ....  Owners want extended playoffs and a shorter season.  All the lip service is just that.... The talk about telling the players to expect a full season when they haven't even figured out the DH situation is LOL imo.

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20 hours ago, Inside Pitch said:

You forgot Disar!

dude, i just bought a 2021 angels calendar off amazon. opened it up and there's a picture of david freese rounding third on a homer, about to high five third base coach disarcina. it also had pictures of brandon phillips, kole calhoun, and tyler skaggs. it was the most lazily assembled angels calendar ever assembled.

bought a kings one and they did the same thing with a bunch of former kings instead of current ones. the picture for next december is of jerome igninla. 

lazy morons.

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