COVID-19: MLB cancels spring training, delays start of the season amid coronavirus

Major League Baseball has joined the growing list of North American professional sports leagues to halt play due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced Thursday. Spring training games have been canceled and the season will be pushed back “by at least two weeks,” according to an announcement by MLB.

“MLB and the clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule,” the league said. “MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain as flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”

ESPN’s Jeff Passan said Thursday morning that MLB was “facing enormous pressure to follow suit” with other professional leagues that have canceled. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night and the NHL and MLS did the same Thursday.

Two players for the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. No other athletes in North America’s major sports have tested positive for the virus, which has infected more than 1,300 people in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The first MLB regular-season game was scheduled for March 26.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans,” MLB stated Thursday afternoon. “MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

MLB games were last suspended following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011. Games were halted for six days.

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