TAMPA (WFLA) – Major League Baseball has suspended spring training and delayed the start of the regular season following suit of major sports leagues around the world including the NBA, NHL, and MLS.
MLB has officially suspended spring-training games and will delay the start of the regular season by at least two weeks.
MLB had continued to play into Thursday, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he strongly recommended to local authorities and organizers that they limit all mass gatherings.
The Rays released a statement this evening on the suspension:
The health and safety of our staff, players, fans, and the entire Tampa Bay community is of the utmost importance to us, and we fully supports the decision.
The Rays will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with local and state authorities, as well as our partners in MLB as this situation evolves. As soon as information becomes available regarding the start of the 2020 season, including ticketing information we will make additional announcements. We appreciate your patience as we all manage the impacts of COVID-19.
The big league season had been scheduled to start March 26, its earliest opening other than for international games.
MLB has not had a mass postponement of openers since 1995, when the season was shortened from 162 games to 144 following a 7 1/2-month strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series. Opening day was pushed back from April 2 to April 26.
Player salaries were reduced by 11.1% in 1995 because the games were lost due to a strike.
If regular-season games are lost this year, MLB could attempt to reduce salaries by citing paragraph 11 of the Uniform Player’s Contract, which covers national emergencies.
“This contract is subject to federal or state legislation, regulations, executive or other official orders or other governmental action, now or hereafter in effect respecting military, naval, air or other governmental service, which may directly or indirectly affect the player, club or the league,” it says.
The provision also states the agreement is “subject also to the right of the commissioner to suspend the operation of this contract during any national emergency during which Major League Baseball is not played.”
Former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price chimed in on the possibility of the suspension of spring training games.
“It’s gotta happen. This is so much bigger than sports. I’ve got two kids,” David Price said.
The MLB regular season was supposed to take place on March 26.