MLB teams reportedly are preparing for early-season games to move in light of the new coronavirus' spread.
Clubs are planning for the possibility of playing regular-season games at spring-training facilities, depending upon local governments' policies aimed to stop the virus' spread, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported late Wednesday night, citing "sources familiar with the planning."
Executives are "bracing" for other cities, counties and states to limit large gatherings, following the likes of San Francisco, Santa Clara County and Washington. The former two limited, with some exceptions, "mass gatherings" to 1,000 people, while the latter banned gatherings of over 250 through the end of the month.
Late Wednesday night, California public health officials recommended "large gatherings of over 250 people" be postponed or canceled. The state's public health department specifically named "professional, college and school sporting events" in their release.
The Giants previously canceled a March 24 exhibition game with the A's earlier Wednesday after the City of San Francisco barred gatherings of over 1,000 people for at least the next two weeks. The A's, after Oakland enacted a similar ban through the end of the month, said they are "working with [MLB] on alternative plans" to reschedule their previously scheduled home games. They were set to begin the season with a seven-game homestand from March 26 through April 1.
Professional sports leagues in North America face similar decisions. The NBA and the G League suspended its regular seasons after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night, and the NHL said it would address its plans Thursday morning. NBA and NHL teams, including the Warriors and Sharks, had already announced plans to play games in empty arenas in order to comply with local directives.
MLB will hold a phone call with "high-level executives" Friday, sources told Passan, to discuss their plans for the start of the season. Games were played in front of fans Wednesday morning, but Passan reported multiple teams started to cancel scouts' current and future travel.
The World Health Organization labeled the new coronavirus a pandemic Wednesday. The United States has over 1,200 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state health officials and NBC News reporting. Thirty-seven people have died in the U.S.