Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said “nothing’s off the table” as the sport figures out when it can begin its 2020 season, delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he has an aspirational target in mind.
“My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May, we’ll be gearing back up,” Manfred told Scott Van Pelt on “SportsCenter” Wednesday night. “We’ll have to make a determination depending on what the precise date is as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is going to be done in the club’s home cities or back in Florida and Arizona. And, again, I think the goal would be to get as many regular season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal.”
“Gearing back up” in May likely means a short period of training for teams to get back together and back in shape, which could even push the start of the season back to June.
Thursday would have been MLB’s opening day, with the Washington Nationals launching their first World Series title defense. The Nationals would have played Game 1 Thursday at the New York Mets.
Other sports seem to be in line with thinking that May is a good target for a return. Major League Soccer extended its suspension till May 10, and officials have said they want to fit in a complete MLS season if possible upon returning.
Manfred said MLB will “probably not” fit in a normal 162-game schedule this year, and added the league is still working with infectious disease experts on determining what will be feasible.
“The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back,” Manfred said. “Whenever it’s safe to play, we’ll be back. Our fans will be back. Our players will be back. And we will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country, from this particular pandemic.”