Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is optimistic about the potential for a shortened season and expanded playoffs as well as the possibility of no season at all.
While many in baseball believe the season won’t begin until July, there is hope among some that containment of the coronavirus will be at a level that allows games to begin in June, possibly without fans in attendance.
“My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May we’ll be gearing back up,” Manfred said in an interview with Scott Van Pelt on ESPN.
He said teams could at that point resume workouts at their home park or at their spring training facilities.
Several people in baseball have said the spring training sites are more likely.
Manfred also talked about the possibility of teams playing in empty stadiums, among other contingencies that could help the season start sooner.
“The goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal,” Manfred said.
“… The exact number we’ll see as reasonable will depend on when we get the go-ahead to play. …
“We need to be creative in terms of what the schedule look like, what the postseason format looks like.”
He said “we’re probably not going to be able to” play 162 games with a regular playoff schedule.
“It does give us the opportunity to do some different things, to experiment and make sure we provide as many games as possible and as entertaining a product as possible.”
The MLB schedule has added off days in recent seasons, with 162 games being played in in 186 days.
It is possible players will have to allow the playing of more games in a week than the traditional average of six. That would include doubleheaders.
Some players and managers have supported the idea of seven-inning games during doubleheaders.
Trying to fit more games in a smaller timeline would require adding players to the roster.
The league also seems inclined to reconfigure the playoff format in 2020 to include more teams.
“Nothing is off the table for us,” Manfred said. “We are open.
“We have had some really positive conversations with our Players Association about relaxing some of the rules that govern our schedule.
“They’re very focused on returning to play and playing as many games as possible.”
Bartholomay dead at 91
Former Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, who moved the franchise from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966 to become Major League Baseball’s first team in the South, has died. He was 91.
Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said on his Twitter account Bartholomay “was the greatest owner I ever had the pleasure to play for.
“He understood the game of baseball more than so many others. He’s helped me in more ways than you can imagine. I will surely miss my friend.”
Koepech optioned to AAA
Right-hander Michael Kopech was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte by the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
The 23-year-old missed last season after Tommy John surgery but he hit triple-digits on the radar gun during his first spring training appearance.