UPDATE (3/12 - 12:54 p.m.): In an official statement from Major League Baseball, spring training has been canceled. The World Baseball Classic Qualifier games scheduled in Tuscon have been postponed indefinitely, and the start of the regular season has been delayed for at least two weeks. The full statement is in the tweet below.
UPDATE (3/12/20 - 10:35 a.m.): Per a tweet by ESPN's Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend spring training. Details are forthcoming.
After a conference call among owners this afternoon, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend spring training. The league likely will delay the beginning of the regular season as well. At this point, it's a formality that ownership-level sources expect to happen.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
UPDATE: Per a report by CBS Sports, the MLB issued a statement after a conference call with 30 team owners yesterday (Monday, March 9) about the spread of coronavirus. The remainder of spring training games and the regular season will continue to go on as planned, but "only players and essential personnel may enter locker rooms and clubhouses at MLB facilities." Players will only be available to media in press conferences and other settings.
Good news for Cactus League baseball fans.
Per a memo obtained by Jeff Passan at ESPN, Major League Baseball doesn't plan on postponing or canceling any spring training games due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. This also applies to when the regular season begins on Thursday, March 26.
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The memo was distributed to baseball officials this morning, March 3. It says the league has created an internal task force to deal with any complications as the season progresses through the summer and offers suggested preparations for teams, including:
- Players avoid taking balls and pens directly from fans to sign autographs and not shake hands.
- Teams communicate with their local public health authority.
- Medical teams ensure that all players have received the current flu vaccine and other vaccinations are current.
Per the ESPN article, the MLB is working on guidance for teams and players to decrease the spread of the virus at ballparks and expects to inform them of their plans later in the week. There are 15 teams that play Cactus League baseball in Maricopa County. The Arizona Department of Health Services said today that a "presumptive positive" diagnosis has been confirmed in the state.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated frequently since it originally ran on March 3.