Report: Indians Gave Players July 1 as Target for Season Start Amid COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

The Cleveland Indians
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

At least one Major League Baseball team told its players to be ready to start an adjusted 2020 season July 1, although it was more for preparation purposes than knowing that date was set in stone.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cleveland Indians estimated in a discussion with members of the organization that a second spring training would start June 10 and follow a timeline that former Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies infielder Trevor Plouffe tweeted about Monday:

Trevor Plouffe @trevorplouffe

Want some good baseball news?? I just heard from multiple sources that on June 10th, Spring Training 2 will start. July 1st will be Opening Day and all teams will be playing at their home ballparks. We’ll be discussing it in full on the next @TalkinBaseball_

"But the officials made it clear the dates were mere targets, fully expected to change," Rosenthal wrote. "They simply wanted players to be prepared if the league meets all of the logistical challenges necessary to play."

Former New York Yankees, Twins and San Diego Padres pitcher Phil Hughes also cited multiple sources who said June 10 for the start of spring training and July 1 for Opening Day was "expected to be on the table soon."

There is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the United States, and the idea that a July start could be on the table is far less definitive than saying that is surely the plan.

One executive stressed to Rosenthal that the ability to be flexible and adjust during an unusual season will be key:

"If everyone is expecting baseball to look like and feel like and be the way it's been over the past 10 years, it's going to be really hard to get through the season. If teams and players are willing to be flexible and adaptive, that gives us the best chance to get through.

"We have to be prepared for postponed and canceled games, and not have the expectation we're going to get every single game in. Hopefully that doesn't happen. Hopefully we get back playing and it's smooth sailing to play the way we expect. But hope isn't a good plan.

"The reality is, we don't know what's going to happen over the next five months. I would guess there are things that aren't going to go the way we planned. Our ability to adapt is going to be really important."

While a number of potential plans have been discussed this offseason, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the league hopes to play a schedule of at least 80 games with teams playing in their home parks even if there are no fans present.

Topkin said playing every game in Arizona or spring training sites is "much less likely."

For now, there is still no set plan in place, although the Indians apparently believed July 1 was a realistic enough goal that they told their players to be ready.