Opening of MLB’s regular season pushed back over coronavirus concerns

There is still no joy in Mudville, at least for a while. Major league baseball has been struck out, thanks to the spread of COVID-19.

Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. announced Monday that the start of the 2020 major league season has been postponed, a move that matches the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said people should refrain from gathering in groups of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

That would put the opening of the 2020 MLB season in May at the earliest.

“The clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins,” Manfred said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit.”

Major League Baseball canceled the rest of spring training on Thursday and originally said opening day, which had been set for March 26, was delayed for at least two weeks.

Manfred's decision marks the third time medical reasons have caused concerns for major league baseball. Texas Rangers pitcher Vincente Padilla tested positive with the swine flu in July 2009 and missed one start. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis contracted MSRA during spring training in 2014, causing the team to wash down their facility in Clearwater, Florida.

While no major league baseball players have tested positive for the coronavirus, a minor league player for the New York Yankees has tested positive at the team's spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The last time the opening of the major-league baseball season was delayed was 2003 when an opening series between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics scheduled in Japan was scrapped because of the threat of war against Iraq.

In 1990, a 32-day spring training lockout caused opening day to be delayed a week, but the season was extended by three days to allow every team to play a 162-game schedule. A strike midway into the 1981 season caused MLB to create a split season.

In 1972, a strike halted the beginning of the season for nearly two weeks, erasing 53 games from the schedule.

Another strike, during the 1994 season, caused MLB to shorten the 1995 season to 144 games, delaying opening day from April 2 to April 26.

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