Former Rays and Cubs and current Angels manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that the “best-case scenario” for getting teams back on the field would be in four-six weeks.
And if/when major-league teams resume play, with no fans allowed, Maddon would favor using four sites to base teams, going beyond previously floated plans to either have all clubs play in Arizona or at spring training sites split between Arizona and Florida.
Maddon’s preference, which he shared with MLB officials, is to use domed stadiums in Florida, Texas and Arizona to avoid weather issues, and the Southern California stadiums, given the comfortable climate there.
He said multiple sites would be more representative of a season, allow for games in all time zones to better accommodate TV, and provide some needed variety for the players in traveling between the sites, though that could also create more complications in limiting exposure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, players and staff would have to be allowed to have their families with them under any of the plans.
"A lot of things from the human side I think would be important,'' Maddon said, speaking Wednesday on a Facebook Live talk hosted by the Tampa Baseball Museum. "The big part of that is you have to include families, I think, to really make this amenable to the group.''
Overall, he said all involved parties will have to be accommodating.
"The biggest thing would be to get it going and then we’ll have to really be flexible and nimble in regards to making the whole thing work,'' he said.
Among answers to questions from viewers — besides on topics of food, wine, music and books — Maddon, talking from his RV in Arizona, said:
• The key to long-term viability for the Rays is a new stadium in Hillsborough County. "The ballpark belongs on the Tampa side. It makes it easier to get there after work. That matters,'' he said, as he has previously. "I did like the drawings for the Ybor City (proposed stadium). I thought that was kind of cool. It has to be on that side to make it all work.''
• He is open to implementing a pitch clock to speed up the pace of the game (“the one linchpin to make everything more interesting”) and experimenting with other rule changes, such as putting a runner on second base in extra innings, given what will be a nontraditional season. "Under present circumstances, try anything,'' he said. "This is the time to experiment. This season will be different in every way possible. Go ahead and put a clock out there if you want to. Attempt to do new rule changes if you want to. See what the product looks like and what you can conclude.''
• The current instant replay protocol is a “really uncomfortable weird process.” He said he would be all for MLB adding a fifth umpire member to the on-site crews who was in a replay booth and made the decisions on all reviews.
• Given other recent issues in the game, Pete Rose deserves an opportunity to be reinstated and considered for the Hall of Fame. "With everything going on and how we’re evaluating things coming out of the steroidal era and now whats happening with what’s going on with cheating in baseball with sign stealing, I’d like to see that reconsidered also,'' Maddon said. "As a player you cannot discount what he did and how he did it.''