Report: Rob Manfred tells MLB teams to prepare for full season, on-time spring training

Baseball’s opening day might happen on time after all.

Although the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the country, Major League Baseball is planning to begin spring training on time and hopes to play a full, 162-game season, according to a report by USA Today.

According to national baseball writer Bob Nightengale, commissioner Rob Manfred informed clubs Monday that they should prepare for spring training to start on time in February and to plan on playing a full 162-game season.

Spring training is scheduled to begin Feb. 17 in Arizona and Florida, with opening day scheduled for April 1. The Rockies are set to host the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field to open the season.

Although no official announcement has been made, Rockies players and staff have been working under the assumption that spring training would begin on time.

MLB owners have been pushing to delay the start of the season until May to allow players and fans to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. But the MLB Players Association, fighting for a full 162-game season and the 100% of salaries that comes with it, is demanding a full season.

“As we’ve made clear to the league on multiple occasions, we expect spring training and the regular season to start on time and as scheduled, consistent with our (collective bargaining agreement),” the Players Association said in a statement earlier this month. “The league does not have the authority or legal basis to unilaterally delay or shorten the schedule without players’ consent.

“While there will continue to be challenges, our players have proven they can safely play a season under difficult circumstances, as have the other sports. The commissioner’s office has assured us that they have instructed the clubs to prepare for an on-time start.”

The 2020 season, which did not begin until late July, was limited to just 60 games without fans in the stands. Players received only 37% of their salaries, while Manfred said the 30 MLB teams lost a combined $3 billion.

MLB has not said when fans might be permitted to attend games, and as Nightengale noted, no team has begun selling spring training tickets.

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