No baseball today. Nor tomorrow. April? Doubtful. Maybe in May.

On Friday, Major League Baseball teams gave their players the option of remaining at their spring training facilities or returning to their families. Everything is uncertain, as uncertain as the complete impact the coronavirus will have on the U.S.

“Clearly, this is an unprecedented period in our world’s history, certainly in our country’s history,” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy, during a conference call on Friday afternoon. “None of us at the Red Sox have ever lived through anything like this and, hopefully, God willing, we will never have to live through anything like this again.”

There was, of course the week-long interruption of the 2001 season after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As devastating as that time was – and, God willing, we never have to go through anything like that again, either – from a baseball standpoint it was simpler to resume the schedule. Players were already in shape to begin playing again, and there was no mysterious, contagious virus spreading throughout the land.

The initial talk was the MLB schedule would be pushed back two weeks – as well as minor league schedules, including the Portland Sea Dogs. But that appears overly optimistic.

Kennedy tried to stay optimistic Friday, saying the hope was for a full 162-game schedule with the early, postponed games being re-scheduled at the end, presumably into October.


But Kennedy is also realistic, knowing any plan to resume the schedule will be “put together with a lot of coordination. It’s not just as easy as pushing play.”

With political leaders involved, along with the players’ union and baseball owners, there is no magic play button. When this country is ready to resume baseball, will all the areas of the U.S. be ready? Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis may be good to go – Missouri and Michigan currently have been affected minimally by the virus – but what about hard-hit states like New York and Washington?

“Every different scenario has been discussed,” Kennedy said. “We’re talking about having games in spring training facilities to ramp back up because there may be some states on lockdown. Playing games in empty stadiums has been discussed as well. Certainly no firm plans, but just about every variety has been discussed and obviously there will have to be agreement on whatever plan we come up with.”

Then there is the question of player-readiness? The reason why spring training is so long is to get pitchers ready for the season. This interruption will only delay that preparation. How much time is needed to prepare will depend on how long the interruption is.

“It would be really a guess at this point,“ Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said during the conference call. “A lot of that has to do with how long we’ve been down. Our players, while staying safe, are going to make sure that they are staying as ready as possible.

“We wouldn’t necessarily be starting from scratch. There would still definitely be a need for buildup (for pitchers) if we’re going to do this safely. Obviously, this is not something for which we have a playbook.”


Bloom said that mapping out training programs usually begins with the date of the season opener and “working your way back.” And the 2020 season opener will be …

Thus, the uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox staff in Boston is working at home. The only workers at Fenway Park are security personnel and a cleaning crew that will perform a three-day “deep clean,” according to Kennedy, disinfecting the old ballpark.

So, we will have a cleaner Fenway Park.

And, for the foreseeable future, an empty one.

ONE IDEA to speed up the readiness of players is to initially allow expanded rosters when the season resumes.


“There is no indication that there will be anything different (with the rosters),” Bloom said. “I don’t think there is planning at that stage right now.”

It would make sense. If pitchers are not ready to pitch several innings in a game, add more pitchers until they are.

THE MLB draft is scheduled for June 10-12, but that could be in doubt. To prepare for the draft, college and high school players need to be scouted – and that’s not happening.

The Red Sox, like many teams, have restricted the travel of their scouts (in the Red Sox case, no scouts can fly). But even if scouts can get to games – few are being played. Several colleges have delayed or canceled their seasons, as are many high schools (Maine high schools moved their practice start date from March 23 to April 27).

Certainly, major league teams already have a database of draft prospects, but these next few months of scouting determine teams’ decisions for the draft.

“It’s an evolving situation,” Red Sox General Manager Brian O’Halloran said. Schools not playing “certainly affects our coverage. We’re waiting to receive feedback from MLB with how we go forward with the MLB draft. It’s an open question.”


One scout I talked with mentioned that teams (individually or collectively) could hold workouts and invite selected prospects in.

This lack of scouting in 2020 will not only affect this year’s draft but will have teams scrambling to build their databases for next year.

THE THEME so far for baseball is uncertainty.

“It’s obviously frustrating and disappointing,” Bloom said of the effect of coronavirus on the 2020 baseball season. But “this is more important that the game we play.”

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