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MLB to pitch plan to owners, union to start play in July: report

Specifics are said to include an 80-game season with teams in home parks, a regionalized scheduled and expanded playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo connects for a solo home run in the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 24, 2020, in Port Charlotte.
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo connects for a solo home run in the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 24, 2020, in Port Charlotte. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published May 10, 2020
Updated May 10, 2020

A plan to start roughly an 80-game season in July with most teams playing in their home ballparks and other details reported previously in the Tampa Bay Times is being prepared by Major League Baseball officials to be presented next week to the owners and players union, The Athletic reported Saturday.

Implementation of the plan, even if approved, is subject to numerous health and safety issues regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and governmental permissions. Also to be worked out are protocols if a player, coach, team staffer or umpire tests positive for COVID-19.

Here are the details league officials are said to prefer:

• A regular season starting in early July and consisting of about 80 games, half the standard 162.

• Teams playing — without fans in attendance initially — in their home stadiums if allowed by July, and if not, then in other major-league stadiums or their spring sites. An abbreviated second spring training, likely for three weeks, would also be held in home parks that are open now, and if not, then at their spring sites, though not all teams agree on what’s best.

• A regionalized schedule, with the teams playing within their division and the corresponding division in the other league. For the Rays, that would mean their usual heavy AL East dose of Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees, plus playing against a rugged NL East group of the Braves, Marlins, Mets, world champ Nationals and Phillies.

• An expansion of the playoffs to include seven teams from each league rather than five.

• Expanded roster to draw from, perhaps up to 45 or 50 players, from the planned 26, though it is unlikely all players would be eligible for each game.

• A reduction in pay for the players, with the league pushing for a plan based on sharing the reduced revenues.