MLB Proposing Plan to Start Season Regionally in July

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Major League Baseball is reportedly spending the early portion of the week going over a plan to start the season.

The plan, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, is to begin play in July. If owners, players and health officials approve, teams will reportedly play about an 80-game regular season against teams within their geographic region. Games will be played with expanded rosters and without fans in the stands. If COVID-19-related restrictions prevent teams from playing in their home stadium, games could be relocated to spring training sites or other major-league parks.

The delayed start to the season will also impact the postseason, which Rosenthal reported would expand to seven teams per league within the proposal. The league’s owners are discussing the proposal in a Monday conference call, then it will be presented to the players’ union on Tuesday. Players could be asked to take a pay cut to help offset playing without fans, according to Rosenthal.

Players are already facing some form of pay cut after the MLB and the players’ association agreed to a deal in March. NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra wrote Sunday that players are mad about the potential of further reduced pay, saying “a source familiar with players’ thinking on the matter says that there is ‘going to be a war’ over any 2020 season plan if the owners demand further pay cuts.”

Related content: MLB, Players Agree to Labor Deal During Stoppage

According to Sports Illustrated, region breakdowns would have each team competing within their own division and the corresponding division from the other league. Therefore, the American League East would play the National League East, the AL Central would face the NL Central, and the AL West would play the NL West.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the MLB is proposing every team use designated hitters, which are traditionally only allowed in the AL. Sherman noted that the goal is to begin a second version of “spring training” in June, with the regular season to start around July 1.

On Sunday, ESPN reported the findings of a Stanford University study that found that 60 of the 5,754 people within the MLB employee population tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. The study, which examined 26 MLB teams, found that about 0.7 percent of MLB employees tested positive for antibodies, with about 70 percent of those who tested positive having been asymptomatic.

"I was expecting a larger number," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford. "It shows the value of doing the science as opposed to guessing."

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