No one wants to think about how long the coronavirus pandemic might delay the start of the baseball season, because we barely even got a taste of baseball during virus-shortened spring training. So instead, we can occupy ourselves with wondering how long it’ll take for players and teams to get ready to play baseball once it’s eventually safe to be played.
‘Spring training’ could last a month
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro came up with an estimation for MLB’s spring training do-over, taking into account that many players may be unable to do anything approaching a normal workout due to self-quarantine or social distancing.
"Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, but most importantly just throwing, and probably limited access to just training and exercise, it's hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks," Shapiro told the Associated Press via teleconference.
Normally, spring training takes 6-7 weeks, and it preps players for a six-month schedule of 162 games. Pitchers and catchers report first, then the rest of the squad comes in about a week later for full workouts. They start games around a week after, and they play for four weeks. Then they take a few days off as everyone heads to their home or to their opening day city. Then the season begins.
Shapiro’s estimation cuts that down by 2-3 weeks. “Spring training” (which won’t take place in spring but it seems ridiculous to call it anything else) would be crammed into a month. There’s no telling how MLB would have teams divide that time, though it would likely be a sliding scale of 1-2 weeks for workouts and 2-3 weeks for games.
Will that be enough? Or too much?
It’s hard to say if this is an appropriate amount of time without knowing how much baseball will even be played this season. If MLB gets the go-ahead to restart in July, they wouldn’t be playing serious games until August. It’s important for every player’s health that they be fully physically ready to play, but a month of prep for just two months of games seems like a waste of valuable playing time.
However, that’s only if the regular season definitively ends at the conclusion of September. We’re in uncharted waters here. The pandemic has thrown traditional schedules into upheaval. Playing regular season MLB games in October or even November would be difficult given the colder weather, but it could happen.
The good news is that it doesn’t seem like any scenario is off the table right now. As soon as it’s safe to do so, MLB owners, employees, and players all want to bring us baseball. We don’t know when that will happen, but at least we know that it will.
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