MLB to temporarily close Spring Training sites over COVID-19 fears

spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

All MLB Spring Training sites to be closed immediately.

The path toward playing a 2020 Major League Baseball season became more complicated on Friday, and this time it’s not because of money.

After three clubs—the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and San Francisco Giants—had to close their Spring Training facilities because of the threat of COVID-19, MLB announced that all sites will close for deep cleaning, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

The Phillies had eight club employees, including five players, test positive for COVID-19 on Friday and closed their Spring Training site in Clearwater, Florida. The Blue Jays, with their site less than five miles away in Dunedin, then had the close their facility after a player began showing symptoms; that player, believed to be a pitcher on the 40-man roster who was recently around players from the Phillies organization, is currently awaiting test results. Finally, the Giants closed their camp in Scottsdale, Arizona when someone who had been in the building began experiencing mild symptoms.

While the sites remain closed, no player or club employee will have access without a negative test result. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that MLB hopes to reopen camps next week and conduct tests every two days.

There’s still no news on when the MLB season could start

The owners and players, at the same time they argue over the monetary terms of staging a 2020 season, still haven’t ratified health and safety protocols. MLB’s plan calls for each club to train at their home ballparks and not in either Arizona or Florida.

Even if the two sides agree to a deal on finances, the closing of sites and outbreak of COVID-19 among clubs makes playing a season this year increasingly unlikely. Players may decide the risk simply isn’t worth it; the owners could determine there is no way to adequately protect the players and to stop the virus from spreading.

Money may still separate the owners and union, but Friday’s news is a reminder that the same thing that caused the season to be postponed in the first place, COVID-19, hasn’t gone away.

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