After months without baseball and seemingly endless negotiations between the Major League Baseball owners and the MLB Players Association including various reports which raised hopes and others that lowered expectations, baseball is on its way back.
MLB formally announced around 8:30 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday night that MLB players will report to their teams for the resumption of spring training by July 1, and a 60-game regular season schedule had been submitted to the MLB Players Association for review.
The season is scheduled to start on July 23-24.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release. “We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon.”
This season’s abbreviated schedule will seek to minimize travel due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“The proposed schedule will largely feature divisional play, with the remaining portion of each Club’s games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (i.e., East vs. East, Central vs. Central and West vs. West), in order to mitigate travel,” the MLB release stated. “The vast majority of Major League Clubs are expected to conduct training at the ballparks in their primary home cities.”
The release did not specify the breakdown of divisional and non-divisional games, but MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported the schedule will feature 40 games in division and 20 games interleague with their geographic counterpart.
If accurate, the Royals would play 40 games (10 each) against AL Central Division foes the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. The 20 interleague games would include match-ups with NL Central Division clubs the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.
“The announcement follows confirmation today that the MLB Players Association has accepted the health and safety protocols that will guide MLB’s return to play and that players will be able to report for training by July 1st,” MLB’s release stated. “The health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB’s foremost priorities in its return to play. MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return.”
On Monday, the MLB owners voted unanimously to go forward with the season despite not reaching an agreement with the MLB Players Association that would have included expanded playoffs and the implementation of the designated hitter in both leagues.
MLB asked for the Players Association to respond by 4 p.m. (CT) Tuesday as to whether or not they will be able report to camp by July 1, and whether they’ll agree on a proposed operating manual and health and safety protocols.
The late afternoon deadline came and went, but around 7:40 p.m. CT the Players Association’s Twitter account sent out a tweet which read, “All remaining issues have been resolved and Players are reporting to training camps.”
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