Major League Baseball issued a memorandum to all 30 teams earlier today that addressed multiple topics, most notably the halt of any organized player workouts at Spring Training facilities. The plans outlined in the memo will be in place at least through Monday’s planned conference call between the teams and Commissioner Rob Manfred, and alterations could continue to be made Monday or in the days to come based on further developments concerning the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post detailed some of the main points of the memo, which focused primarily on immediate issues concerning Spring Training matters. Such bigger-picture topics as a revised schedule were discussed between the league and the union, Sherman noted, though no decisions were made since it is too early to know when the season could potentially get underway.
The memo highlights many concerns that the MLBPA raised with the league over the last few days, as outlined by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic (subscription required). The Orioles, Brewers, Braves, Marlins and Mets were all cited in player complaints to the union about a lack of access to facilities. As Rosenthal and Drellich put it, “even as MLB and the PA technically agree that facilities are to be open to major league players for now, they differ about what ’open’ means.”
As outlined in today’s memo, players on a 40-man roster “must be permitted to remain at the Club’s Spring Training site, and are eligible to receive their usual Spring Training allowances.” Non-roster players were instructed to return to their normal homes, though such players with injury problems were allowed to stay in camp to receive treatment from team medical staffers, and “Clubs should work…to provide suitable accommodations” for any player who wished to remain in the United States rather than another country, or for American players “who reside in high-risk areas in the United States.”
The stability of a team facility offers obvious appeal to players who wish to keep training in preparation for whenever the season begins, though MLB and the individual teams have similarly understandable concerns about keeping players gathered in any sort of clustered situation. “In the view of several executives and MLB officials, any objection to limited access in the middle of a public health crisis misses the larger point of trying to keep players safe,” Rosenthal and Drellich wrote, adding that teams are also worried about older staff members at the facilities who could be at greater risk of catching the coronavirus.