Major League Baseball, minor league seasons delayed because of coronavirus

Major League Baseball, minor league seasons delayed because of coronavirus
It will be a while longer before shouts of "Play ball!" are heard at Birmingham's Regions Field. Both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have delayed the opening of baseball season because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (file)

The opening of Major League Baseball season will be delayed for an undetermined period in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s recommendation that gatherings of more than 50 people be avoided for the next eight weeks, according to a statement from MLB.

The CDC issued its recommendation March 15 as the number of known cases of the new coronavirus infection multiplied around the U.S.

The MLB statement came after Commissioner Rob Manfred held a conference call with the 30 MLB clubs. The teams are committed to playing as many games as possible once the delayed season begins, according to the statement.

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Minor League Baseball announced late last week that its season would not begin on April 9, as originally scheduled. The season will commence “once the public health experts and agencies have decided it is safe … and the players are physically ready to begin the season,” the league said.

That decision delays the season openers for Alabama’s minor league teams – the Birmingham Barons, the Montgomery Biscuits and the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The delay is especially disappointing for the Trash Pandas and Huntsville-area baseball fans, who have been looking forward to the first season at the new Toyota Field in Madison after the team’s move from Mobile, where it was known as the BayBears.

Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson released a statement addressed to the team’s fans. He promised to keep them informed during the delay and vowed that all ticket purchases will be honored when the season begins. He encouraged fans to follow all recommendations from health officials and experts.

“We will use every extra day that we have, completely focused on making the fan experience even better,” Nelson wrote.

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