Early June start appears out of picture for MLB with Florida orders
There are too many unknowns to predict when Major League Baseball might start its season, if at all. But one thing now seems clear: Early June seems like it is out of the picture.
While MLB’s potential starting date is in limbo due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some within the league reportedly have been hoping for an early June return. But multiple things that happened on Monday, March 30, might make that difficult, including a new “Safer at Home” order from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in four counties that will last through mid-May at the very least. That date could be extended and the number of counties expanded as the coronavirus continues to spread.
If teams can’t begin training in Florida until mid-May at the earliest, an early June beginning of the season appears to be completely off the table. While it’s not clear how long of a ramp up period teams would need, it’s possible that it could take up to a month.
The Florida order applies to Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, the four counties in southeast Florida which make up about 60 percent of the state’s reported coronavirus cases. More pertinent to MLB, Palm Beach County is the spring home to four teams: the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter and the Nationals and Astros in West Palm Beach. The Nationals’ and Astros’ spring training site, FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, has been converted into a COVID-19 testing area.
Fort Myers, where the Twins train, is located in Lee County, which has not yet been put under a “Safer at Home” order. Neither is the state of Arizona, where 15 teams have their spring training homes.
While teams could perhaps train in their home cities if needed, some, like New York, have been hit even harder by the coronavirus than Florida or Arizona. Many states have put shelter-in-place type orders into effect with varying timelines, most of which seem as if they will be extended.
The longest statewide order in the country currently belongs to Virginia, as announced on Monday. That lasts until June 10, and while Virginia does not have an MLB team, if other states extend their orders into June, that would mean an even later return date for the country’s national pastime.