11:10am: Teams throughout the league have been sending scouts home this morning, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that “just about every team, if not every team” has taken this step. Meanwhile, in an unlocked article that is not behind the web site’s paywall, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal runs through several potential pandemic-related issues and courses of action for the league.
As for any actual action from the league, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the league is likely to provide some clarity today. At this point, it feels inevitable that the league will make a statement on the status of Spring Training games and the regular season in the very near future.
1:55am: The coronavirus outbreak led the National Basketball Association to suspend its season on Wednesday. It’s unclear how Major League Baseball will react before its regular season is scheduled to begin March 26, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that the pandemic will have a sizable effect on its plans.
It’s possible, for instance, that some of the league’s teams will start 2020 by playing regular-season games outside of their normal home venues. That already seems to be the case for the Mariners, who are “likely” to host their season-opening series in the Phoenix area instead of in Seattle, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com. But they may not be the only club in that situation. The state of California has recommended limiting public gatherings to 250 people for the rest of March, which means the Dodgers, Padres and Athletics could either play their initial series elsewhere or have those sets postponed, Passan tweets. All three of those teams are scheduled to play at home until early April.
For now, MLB executives aren’t slated to discuss how they’ll proceed until a Friday conference call, per Passan. However, with the NBA shutting itself down and the National Hockey League possibly poised to make a similar announcement on Thursday, perhaps MLB will reach a decision on how it will move forward sooner than expected. The hope is that the league will come up with a plan “within days,” three high-level team officials told Passan.