Monday's MLB: Baseball's return will likely hinge on Florida

Detroit News wire services

Tampa, Fla. — Florida governor Ron DeSantis just threw a curveball into hopes that baseball could possibly return from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown by early June.

DeSantis announced Monday that he would be signing an executive order urging those in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties — the spring training homes of four major league teams — to stay home through “mid-May,” to try and stem the spread of the disease through social distancing.

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale successfully underwent surgery on his left elbow.

But three and a half hours later, DeSantis said he misspoke and meant “mid-April.”

The uncertainty of when Florida could be open again for baseball just adds another twist to when baseball will be able to reassemble for an abbreviated spring training.

While MLB had officially pushed back the start of the regular season for at least eight weeks on March 16, several sources in major league baseball have hinted that they hoped to have games back up and running by June 1.

Until these "Safer at Home," orders are lifted, however, teams would not be able to hold workouts with more than 10 players or restart spring training without an exemption.

WIth New York becoming the biggest hotspot for the disease in the country and other cities projected to go through similar outbreaks in the near future, there had been suggestions that the regular season could be started at spring training sites.

Florida, however, is dealing with it’s own attempts at containing the virus and may not be in a position to host teams anytime soon.

Obviously this is not a high priority with states dealing with the pandemic and facing the possibilities of thousands of Americans dying from the disease. As of 11 a.m. on Monday, Florida had 5,473 confirmed coronavirus cases and 63 deaths.

The four counties are also where 58% of the state’s COVID-19 cases are currently located. Palm Beach County is the spring training home to four major league baseball teams; the defending World Champion Nationals, the league’s arch-villain Astros, the Cardinals and Miami Marlins, who also play their regular-season games in one of the affected counties.

The “Safer At Home” orders in Florida state that residents could only leave for essential work or to pick up food and medication. So far, prepping for a major league baseball season has not been added to the list of essential jobs in Florida.

Sale’s surgery

Red Sox starter Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Monday, his 31st birthday, and the team said it was successful.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

Sale is expected to miss 14-15 months, which would bring him back in the middle of the 2021 season.

A seven-time All-Star, Sale is 109-73 in 10 major league seasons and entering the second season of a six-year, $160 million contract.