Another sign that baseball’s return may be near: Teams are starting to reopen facilities to players.
Marlins on the 40-man roster were allowed to use their spring training complex as of Tuesday. The Rays are following suit by opening Tropicana Field starting Monday, according to a report Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Times.
Those clubs join the Yankees, who have made George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa available for weeks, among teams known to be allowing players to work out at team facilities. Players who have been on-site include the rehabbing Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino as well as DJ LeMahieu, Tyler Wade and J.A. Happ.
The Mets have declined to comment on the status of their Clover Park complex in Port St. Lucie. A handful of players have stayed in town since MLB shut down March 12, and a larger handful are elsewhere in Florida, just a drive away.
The facilities’ availabilities come with restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rays will be allowed to do limited, mostly individual workouts, the Tampa Bay Times report said. The Marlins can throw off mounds and hit in batting cages but can’t use the clubhouse or other sections of the building.
Meanwhile, MLB and the players’ union are trying to hash out the details of a 2020 season. The largest disagreement seems to be over money — the players want to be paid their regular salaries on a prorated basis, the owners want to pay them less than that — and MLB sought input on its highly detailed, 67-page document of health and safety protocols.
Time is running out for the sides to come to an agreement. MLB hopes to have Opening Day in early July. That would require a spring training restart by mid-June — though some teams and individuals are getting a jump-start.