Major League Baseball is expected to announce today it is suspending the spring training schedule over concerns about the coronavirus beginning on Friday, according to multiple reports.
After a conference call among owners this afternoon, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend spring training. The league likely will delay the beginning of the regular season as well. At this point, it's a formality that ownership-level sources expect to happen.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
The expectation now is that the start of the regular season will be delayed as well. MLB will be making a statement today on this.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 12, 2020
The NBA and MLS have already suspended their seasons, and several collegiate conferences have cancelled tournaments this weekend, including the Big XII tournament in Kansas City. The NCAA tournament is still scheduled to be played, but without any fans in attendance.
The MLB season is scheduled to begin in two weeks, but Seattle and San Francisco have already banned large gatherings, as has the state of Ohio, which could mean teams in those areas will need to play games without fans or move their games to another location. Already, the Mariners have explored playing their games at their spring training facility in Arizona. The Royals are scheduled to begin the season in Chicago, where the Big 10 tournament and St. Patrick’s Day parade have already been cancelled. Illinois has had 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with many of them in the Chicago area, including a downtown worker this week.
Player safety has also become a concern. Two members of the Utah Jazz have tested positive for coronavirus, leading the NBA to suspend their season. With players traveling around the country and sharing a locker room with each other, there is a concern the virus could continue to spread among players.
For anyone questioning MLB's potentially suspending spring training, I'll refer to David Price as he walked into the Dodgers' facility about an hour ago: "It's gotta happen. This is so much bigger than sports. I've got two kids."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
That feeling is shared by many, many in the game.
Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas announced a state of emergency for the city today, prohibiting gatherings of 1,000 or more people for 21 days. The Royals home opener is scheduled for April 2, 21 days from now. The city has had no confirmed cases, but three more cases were confirmed in suburban Johnson County in Kansas today, bringing the total cases there to four.
More as this story develops.
2:13 p.m. update: MLB has issued a statement. The regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks.
3:04 p.m update: The minor league season will be delayed as well.