Senior officials of the Biden administration spoke with MLB last week about a one-month delay for the season while getting players vaccinated in time for opening day, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Rather than join the meeting, the MLB Players Association reportedly opted to schedule its own discussion with the same officials at a later date, out of concern it would be pressured to agree to the delay. The union will hear the same pitch.
Administration officials reportedly told MLB they were confident in their ability to vaccinate players in time for the delayed season due to the expected introduction of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to be filed for FDA approval within a week.
Rosenthal reports that the delay will not take place, barring the COVID-19 situation changing.
MLBPA rejected one-month delay
The Biden administration proposal comes during a delicate time between MLB and the MLBPA.
The league proposed a monthlong delay to the season on Sunday, as well as a 154-game season with full pay, expanded playoffs and the universal designated hitter.
The union, which has consistently pushed for the season to start on time, rejected the proposal a day later.
The Major League Baseball Players Association today released the following statement on Players’ commitment to begin the 2021 season on time: pic.twitter.com/WCYtaeVqmH
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) February 2, 2021
As things stand, players are expected to report for spring training this month and attempt to play the season as usually constructed. We’ll see how vaccines are distributed as the players prepare for the season.
Arizona’s Cactus League wants delay, too
The Biden administration isn’t alone in wanting a delay to the season. Arizona’s Cactus League, set to host 15 teams in a matter of weeks, formally asked MLB to push back the start of spring training due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The letter was sent with the support of several local leaders.
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