MLB proposes shorter, later season over COVID concerns

Major League Baseball has proposed postponing the start of the 2021 season and reducing the number of games, ESPN and other U.S. media outlets reported Sunday.
The proposed plan put to the MLB Players Association on Friday would have the schedule shortened from 162 regular season games for each team to 154, but an expanded playoffs would see players receive all of their scheduled compensation.
ESPN reported that players were considering the plan, with MLB having asked for a response by Monday.
Under the proposal, Opening Day would be pushed back from April 1 to April 28 and Spring Training, now set to begin in mid-February, would start on March 22.
USA Today reported that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would retain authority to suspend the season for health reasons.
Citing league sources, ESPN reported that MLB made the proposal based on recommendations from health experts in the hope that the season would start when coronavirus cases in the United States have tapered off.
MLB had already suggested starting the season a month later than usual, but didn't want to extend the season into November and didn't want to pay players for games lost in a shortened season.
The Cactus League, in which major league teams play exhibition games in Arizona, this week asked MLB to delay the start of Spring Training amid ongoing coronavirus concerns.
Officials hope as cases decline and vaccinations increase, more fans would be able to attend both exhibition and regular-season games.
Player concerns about a delay reportedly include worries that a compressed season could lead to injuries and concern that any clause giving Manfred the ability to suspend play would mean a minimum number of games isn't guaranteed.

© 2021 AFP
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