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Mets, Yankees to move training to NYC homes, Cuomo says

Citi Field sits empty on March 16 after

Citi Field sits empty on March 16 after MLB announced a delay to the start of the season. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

This story was reported by John Asbury, Erik Boland, Tim Healey and Craig Schneider. It was written by Schneider.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that the Mets and Yankees plan to hold their spring training soon in New York — a testament, he said, to the state tamping down coronavirus infections.

Cuomo said the Mets plan to begin a “soft training camp opening” next week at Citi Field. He said the Yankees will have their training camp in Yankee Stadium but did not offer a time frame.

“I can’t wait to see spring training in New York,” Cuomo said. 

He said the state Health Department will review the teams’ protocols to maintain a safe training camp.

The governor said the teams, which usually have spring training in Florida, have chosen New York in part because the state has done such a good job in curtailing the virus. Meanwhile, he added, Florida is seeing an increase in cases.

New York continues to beat down the virus, Cuomo said. Long Island, as well, remains on track to begin Phase 3 reopening on Wednesday. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the county set record lows for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations Saturday. The county recorded 56 new cases, totaling 41,443 since the pandemic started. The county suffered three additional deaths, bringing the total to 2,175.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone echoed the sentiment that "there is nothing in the numbers to indicate anything but moving forward."

Suffolk saw 44 people test positive for the virus, for a total of 40,908. One person died from the virus in the past 24 hours, he said.

Cuomo said the state saw 716 additional cases Friday, with 391 occurring in New York City.

The state had 24 additional deaths due to coronavirus Friday, the governor said.

New York City remains on track to start a Phase 2 reopening Monday, he said.

Baseball in the Big Apple

When Major League Baseball officially suspended spring training March 13, the notion of it restarting in New York would have been laughed off.

At the time, New York — New York City especially — was the domestic epicenter of the pandemic. But the state has gradually gotten its COVID-19 cases under control, while cases in Florida and Arizona, traditional spring training homes to all 30 MLB clubs, have skyrocketed.

Cuomo's announcement comes as MLB closed all spring training camps this weekend for disinfection after a number of positive coronavirus tests were reported. And MLB and the Players Association have not yet reached an agreement on when the season will start.

Newsday has confirmed that four members of the Yankees organization have tested positive for the virus. The Philadelphia Phillies announced Friday that five players, plus three staff members, tested positive, causing the club to shut down its facility in the Tampa area. The Toronto Blue Jays did the same when one player showed symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

The Yankees issued a statement Saturday that reads in part: "We will continue to follow Major League Baseball’s guidelines and protocols, and we will vigilantly work with Governor Cuomo, Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and their health authorities, as well as with federal officials and Major League Baseball’s own medical and infectious disease experts, to ensure our facility maintains the best possible safety standards."

Looking ahead on LI

Meanwhile, many Long Islanders celebrated the summer solstice Saturday by heading to parks and beaches.

According to the state Parks Department website, Long Island sites that reached capacity early and closed temporarily to incoming visitors and traffic included: Fields 2 and 6 at Jones Beach, Orient Beach, Robert Moses, Connetquot, Captree, Caleb Smith in Smithtown, Stony Brook, Wildwood in Wading River, and Hempstead Lake. 

As for Phase 3, Curran said it will include indoor dining and bar seating 6 feet apart. It will also include personal care services such as nail salons, facials and massages.

Groups can also increase to gatherings of 25 people, but people from different households are still required to socially distance and wear masks.

Nassau's COVID-19 hospitalizations declined by seven to 81 patients in the county's 11 hospitals. There were three fewer intubations, leaving 12 people on ventilators, Curran said.

She also declared Saturday “Justice for Janitors Day” to recognize six Long Islanders who have died from COVID-19.

In Suffolk County, Bellone said COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped by 19 to a total of 106. The number of people in ICUs ticked up by two to 31, he said. 

Bellone also cheered the decision by the Mets and Yankees to train in New York, and said county officials would renew their request of the state to allow the Long Island Ducks to resume baseball with a plan to keep the games safe for people.