COVID-19 Roundup: Indians Give Target Return Date to Players

This is the latest installment of a series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

Cleveland Tells Players to Prepare For Season To Start July 1

Speaking to players and other members of their organization via Zoom, officials with the Cleveland Indians provided a target date of July 1 for the start of MLB’s regular season, according to a report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. According to the story, that July start date would follow a three-week “Spring Training” period beginning around June 10. Both of these dates are “fully expected to change,” but are supposed to act as placeholders for members of the organization as they plan for what this season could have in store.

While this is just one team, these dates mirror those communicated in a somewhat controversial tweet sent by former major league infielder Trevor Plouffe on Monday. Because it was sent by a former nine-year big league veteran, the tweet gained some steam, even getting corroborated by Plouffe’s former teammate Phil Hughes. Meanwhile, some established MLB reporters such as The Athletic’s Keith Law disputed the reports, saying no date has been proposed.

While Rosenthal’s report says nothing about whether the Indians told their employees they expect to have games at their home park, he does reiterate MLB’s goal to have play in as many home cities as possible if and when games resume. COVID-19’s unpredictable nature continues to produce sudden and unexpected flare-ups in cities all over the country, further complicating any plan MLB may set in motion. The league will need to be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, and while all 30 teams playing in their home parks would involve considerable and potentially hazardous travel, it would also mean a flare-up in a host city would necessitate moving just one team to a different location, instead of 10, 15, or 30.

Those are the kinds of considerations MLB will be weighing in the coming weeks as it tracks the spread of the pandemic and develops a clearer idea of what the best path is for baseball in the United States in 2020, should one exist at all. One team telling its players a cautiously optimistic date, while acknowledging it will likely change, is far from a full-fledged, league-wide plan being close to complete; we’ll be waiting on the latter for the foreseeable future.

European football navigates return

Germany’s soccer league, Bundesliga, has received permission from chancellor Angela Merkel to return to games this month, according to reports. Thirty-six teams in Germany’s top two divisions can resume matches in the second half of May, after a schedule is mapped out. No fans will be permitted at games, and just 300 people total can be in each stadium at once.

Germany has suffered fewer than 7,000 deaths from COVID-19, putting their total at less than a tenth of the American total despite having about a fourth of the population. It achieved this through aggressive testing early in the pandemic’s spread, which has allowed the country to be on a faster timeline for re-opening its economy.

The plan to re-open Bundesliga, however, still isn’t without risks. When the league conducted a widespread test of players from all 36 teams on Monday, 10 tested positive. The positive tests accounted for just 0.4 percent of those tested, but the fact that many of them were asymptomatic is another reminder of how quiet the virus can be while it spreads.

Bundesliga’s season has been on pause since March 13, with only nine games remaining for each team. It is expected to finish by the end of June.

The Premier League in England has set the timeline for its return a few weeks ahead of Major League Baseball, with a goal to start training in groups again on May 18, with competition resuming on June 12.

That first date is less than two weeks away, and according to a report by David Ornstein of The Athletic, team doctors seem incredibly anxious about what lies ahead. They’ve come together to submit a list of about 100 questions to the league’s top medical advisor, as well as the director of football. It’s a sobering list, with topics ranging from how long the virus can linger on equipment such as goalkeeper gloves, to logistical issues with testing and emergency personnel being on site for competition, to whether any guidelines at all should be approved if they carry any risk of death.

It’s a grim report, but one worth reading as it provides a glimpse into the dozens of vital issues medical personnel in every sport will be assessing as leagues attempt to return. Premier League’s proposed return dates have yet to be approved by the government.

We hoped you liked reading COVID-19 Roundup: Indians Give Target Return Date to Players by Tony Wolfe!

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Tony is a contributor for FanGraphs. He began writing for Red Reporter in 2016, and has also covered prep sports for the Times West Virginian and college sports for Ohio University's The Post. He can be found on Twitter at @_TonyWolfe_.

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descender
Member
descender

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/ohio-coronavirus-cases.html
Since cases and deaths are both still rising in Ohio I’m gonna go ahead and guess that this is not going to happen. These people are just living in denial of the real problem that hasn’t even gotten to them yet.

Smiling Politely
Member
Member
Smiling Politely

You’re assuming the Ohio government will prioritize public health and safety; recent statements and decisions made this week by Gov. DeWine do not suggest such a stance

carter
Member
Member
carter

A very realistic outcome would be it starts then stops again, at least to me.

bglick4
Member
bglick4

You’re assuming the games will be in Ohio.