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MLB suspends operations due to coronavirus outbreak

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The league is ending spring training, and delaying opening day by at least two weeks.

Dusk settles on AT&T Park and McCovey Cove as the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series Game 4 in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

This is a developing story ...

After a conference call with owners on Thursday morning, MLB decided to suspend spring training, and delay the start of the 2020 regular season by a minimum of two weeks. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, with the league making the matter official shortly after.

Here’s the full statement from the league:

Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans.

MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days. As of 4:00 p.m. (ET) today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.

MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.

The move, while sweeping, is not surprising. On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended play indefinitely, with the NHL and MLS following suit on Thursday. It was only a matter of time before MLB made a similar move.

Even if MLB had not made this move, the San Francisco Giants opening day game at the Los Angeles Dodgers in two weeks would have been in doubt. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that the state’s health policy is calling for non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people to be suspended or canceled.

At some point the season will be able to resume, but without knowing the future of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s impossible to know when that will be. With spring training cut short, the league may need to resume spring training before starting the season, depending on if the players feel ready to go whenever play resumes.

We’ll keep you updated.

As a reminder, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking people to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

This story will be updated with more information. For more information on the coronavirus, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.