How New CDC Recommendations For Coronavirus Could Further Impact MLB Opening Day
Dodger Stadium view, 2019 Opening Day
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended new guidelines for large events and mass gatherings (50 or more people), suggesting they not be held for at least the next eight weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CDC defined “large events” and “mass gatherings” as conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and weddings, among other types of assemblies. Their recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

The California Department of Public Health previously suggested public gathering of 250 or more people be cancelled across the state at least through March. California Governor Gavin Newsom additionally recommended the cancellation of all events due to attract at least 250 people.

With the CDC’s latest recommendation, MLB and other professional sports leagues don’t figure to operate within their respective prior timelines — at least not with any fans in attendance. NBA commissioner Adam Silver plans to re-evaluate matters after a 30-day window that stretched into mid-April.

Meanwhile, upon cancelling Spring Training games, MLB delayed the start of the season for at least two weeks. Though, holding Opening Day on April 9 has steadily appeared less and less likely. There’s been a growing sense the season would not begin until May, at the earliest.

MLB has since suspended Spring Training operations, preventing teams from holding voluntary workouts and activities that would lead to players gathering. The directive was in response to “social distancing” becoming encouraged in effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

With CDC suggesting events of 50 or more people being cancelled, it pushes a theoretical timeline for baseball back to May 10. Of course, that would be a best-case scenario.

The longer the layoff, the more a second Spring Training becomes necessary. Given the large nature of rosters, MLB presumably wouldn’t begin to have players return to action until health officials have given clearance or lifted strict recommendations.

The Dodgers were scheduled to host the San Francisco Giants on March 26 for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium.

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