PHOENIX — Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are reportedly looking into a possible return in May that could have all 30 teams begin their seasons in Arizona, according to MLB insider Jeff Passan.
Passan reports one potential plan has each MLB team beginning their 2020 season playing games in front of no fans either at Chase Field or one of the 10 spring training facilities in the Valley.
"Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation, and travel only to the stadium and back, sources said," according to Passan.
Passan says officials with the CDC and National Institute of Health are supportive of a plan that would "ahere to strict isolation and promote social distancing."
"While the possibility of a player or staff member testing positive for coronavirus exists, even in a secured setting, officials do not believe that a positive test alone would necessarily be cause to quarantine an entire team or shut down the season, sources said," Passan writes.
This could mean teams will have larger rosters to account for players testing positive for coronavirus and to also counteract the heat in Arizona.
Chase Field has a roof, but the 10 spring training stadiums do not.
The plan would require the league to figure all logistics and buy-in from players who may not want to separate from their families during the pandemic to play in Arizona.
According to Passan, after a two- to three-week training camp that would take place for teams in Arizona, the MLB could consider beginning its regular season, sources said.
Additionally, Passan reports the MLB and MLBPA are considering further changes to the game due to the coronavirus pandemic, including:
- Implementing an electronic strike zone to allow the plate umpire to maintain sufficient distance from the catcher and batter
- No mound visits from the catcher or pitching coach
- Seven-inning doubleheaders, which, with an earlier-than-expected start date, could allow baseball to come closer to a full 162-game season
- Regular use of on-field microphones by players, as an added bonus for TV viewers
- Sitting in the empty stands 6 feet apart – the recommended social-distancing space – instead of in a dugout
In addition to teams, the league and players, the sides will also have to work with local television contracts.
Major League Baseball put out the following statement Tuesday morning regarding the report, saying they have discussed playing games in one location but have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.