NEW YORK (AP) – Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing on empty soccer fields was part of the ideas discussed by Major League Baseball and the players’ association on Monday.
The parties held a phone call to discuss the pathways for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.
The ideas are still at an early stage and the Arizona option would have many hurdles to overcome, people said.
Half of the MLB clubs organize spring training in Arizona, the other half in Florida.
The Arizona advantage is 10 baseball fields in the spring, plus the Arizona Diamondbacks hunting ground within a radius of about 50 miles. The spring baseball fields in Florida are spread over nearly 220 miles.
“It allows for the immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to start it and broadcast it, providing Major League Baseball in America,” said Scott Boras, the most prominent baseball agent. “I think the players are ready to do what is necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihood and for the benefit of our country and by providing a necessary product that gives all those who are isolated a pleasure. “
“It gives them a sense of return to a certain normalcy,” added Boras. “You talk to a psychologist and they say that it’s really good for a culture to do sports and focus like that, where for a few hours a day they can get away from the harsh reality of the virus. “
The baseball season was scheduled to start on March 26, but spring training was suspended on March 12. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended limiting the events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.
Texas Rangers baseball operations president Jon Daniels said the MLB is exploring options and he didn’t want to speculate.
“But of course we would all like to find a way to play, if we can do it safely, and that would be the priority,” he said.
The players’ association would like to survey its members to determine if they would support such a plan, said one of the people.
“You will be largely separated from your families and you will have to function in a very contained way. It’s not a normal life, this idea, “said Boras. “You are going to have a group of people identified. You are going to have a group of people constantly tested. And you’re going to have very limited access from these people to the outside world so that you can ensure a very contaminated league, if you will, to produce a product that is an inspiration to our country. ”
Chase Field, with artificial turf and a retractable roof, could be the site of triple daily skulls, said Boras.
The MLB and the union reached an agreement on March 26 to advance $ 170 million in wages to players for the first 60 days of the season. Under the agreement, players would only receive portions prorated to their wages if the regular season is cut from their regular 162 games and would not receive any additional wages if the season was abandoned.
Both sides have agreed to try to play as full a season as possible, and this plan would allow the season to start while health and government officials determine if it is safe to resume play on the field. regular season baseball, with the trip it would imply.
Sports writer AP Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.
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