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MLB cancels spring training, delays start of season due to coronavirus pandemic

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Coronavirus concerns push opening day back at least 2 weeks

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball on Thursday canceled the remaining of spring training and delayed the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks “due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.”

The remainder of spring training games were canceled as of 1 p.m. PT Thursday, and earliest opening day would be April 9, but even that is up in the air at this point.

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

This came a day after California public health officials in Sacramento suggested that gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled across the state to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which is now classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic.

The suggestion, though not an outright ban, would be through at least the end of March, and would have affected all three Freeway Series games against the Dodgers, March 22 in Anaheim and March 23-24 in Los Angeles. Those games are now canceled anyway, by MLB.

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects — saving dozens of lives and preserving critical health care resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk – seniors and those with underlying health conditions — are depending on all of us to make the right choice.”

The Angels were scheduled to open their regular season in Texas, with four games against the Astros then three against the Rangers, then return home to Anaheim for a six-game homestand April 6-8 agains the Astros and A’s. All those games won’t be played as scheduled, and it remains to be seen if they will even be made up at all.

The last MLB regular season that wasn’t scheduled for 162 games was 1995, when the strike that wiped out the previous year’s World Series spilled over into the next season, which was reduced to 144 games.

The Angels issued a statement regarding the delay in the schedule:

Things are happening fast in the sports world regarding coronavirus. The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday after a player tested positive, and the NCAA tournament decided to play all men’s and women’s games without fans. Several conference tournaments were canceled altogether on Thursday. The NHL instructed teams not to hold morning practices or team meetings Thursday morning as they decide what to do about coronavirus.

It’s not just the indoor sports in this country that are acting. The MLS on Thursday suspended its season for 30 days. The PGA Tour will hold its next few events without fans.

The writing was on the wall for Major League Baseball to do something, and they did. Now there is no baseball for the next four weeks, at least.