With an official start date to spring training still up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball has informed its minor leagues that training sessions will be staggered in order to better ensure player safety.
Baseball America is reporting that teams were sent a memo yesterday that said Double-A and Single-A players will not report to spring training until major league teams and their Triple-A affiliates have broken camp.
Under normal circumstances, that would mean players from the Double-A Birmingham Barons, High-A Winston-Salem Dash and Low-A Kannapolis Cannon Ballers will not report to Camelback Ranch to begin workouts until some time around April 1, the current MLB Opening Day. Even with an abridged spring training, the need for some game play and instruction at the lower levels would probably mean that official play in the lower minors would be delayed until at least May 1, and possibly well into the month.
The minors are expected to forego their playoffs in 2021 as well, instead having all teams play additional games at the end of the year — meaning game play could stretch until the end of September (MiLB seasons are normally finished by the first week of September).
Given the nature of Triple-A travel (commercial flights) and the need for reinforcements in the majors, it’s a possibility that at least the start of that level’s play commences at the alternate-site arrangement of 2020 — meaning the Charlotte Knights would gather in Schaumburg to work out in Boomers Stadium.
It is also assumed that all minor leagues will apply a restricted travel schedule, where teams play for six days in one location, then travel on a day off, and play six more games, etc. It’s a less hectic schedule, and one that features far less risk to players.