Report: MLB Teams Can Schedule 3 Spring Training Games Before Opening Day

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12:  The New York Yankees look on during batting practice prior to the a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

MLB will allow teams to schedule up to three exhibition games as part of their preparations for the 2020 season, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal

"If a club is not located near any potential opponents, it can schedule games against its initial regular-season opponent in days leading to Opening Day," per Rosenthal.

The season has been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB announced on March 12 that spring training was canceled and that Opening Day would be delayed indefinitely.

With team owners and the MLB Players Association unable to reach a deal, commissioner Rob Manfred mandated a 60-game regular season. This year will also feature a universal designated hitter, and games in extra innings will start each half-inning with a runner on second base.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA came to an agreement on health and safety protocols, which laid out July 1 as the date for players to report to camp and July 23 or 24 for Opening Day.

Staging team practices and games during an ongoing pandemic presents obvious concerns. The feeling is particularly acute with MLB since Arizona and Florida, where teams are stationed for spring training, have experienced recent surges in positive COVID-19 tests.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported June 19 that MLB ordered the temporary closure of spring training facilities so that they could be thoroughly cleaned. 

Nightengale also reported 40 MLB players and staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 as the league prepares for the season. The Denver Post's Kyle Newman reported Colorado Rockies star Charlie Blackmon was among three Rockies players who were flagged for positive tests.