BRADENTON, Fla. -- Major League Baseball's decision Thursday to suspend spring training and delay the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to the nationwide outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus, has already drastically altered the structure of the 2020 season.
In a conference call Friday afternoon, Pirates' player union representative, Jameson Taillon, said it it is "too early to speculate" what this season will look like. That could include shortening the season rather than playing the traditional 162 games.
"We're just trying to figure out what a year would even look like right now," Taillon said. "We're at that weird time in spring training, too, where guys were getting really, really close to being ready for the season."
All spring training camps were suspended Friday night.
Though nothing is official, the proposed start date of Apr. 9 is a best case scenario, and perhaps unlikely:
MLB isn’t saying yet the new April 9 hoped-for start date is being pushed back. However, with concerned players leaving camps fir home, 2 GMs with teams suggest they think it will take longer to get regular-season games going. MLB said from the start Apr 9 is the earliest.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 13, 2020
The longer the hiatus is, the longer it will take for the regular season to start since players will need more time to get ready.
"If we're going to shut this thing down, we're going to need ample time to build it all back up again, and do it the right way," Taillon said.
The Pirates are remaining in Bradenton through Sunday. Team facilities are closed to fans, families and media through the weekend as well.
"Obviously, first and foremost, everyone just wants to stay safe, stay healthy," Taillon said. "Then we can figure out all the baseball stuff later."
Taillon, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, plans to stay in Bradenton during the hiatus, but most players do not have long-term housing arranged in Florida.
"I do like the idea of guys having the option to go home, just because so much is up in the air right now," Taillon said.
No Pirates have been tested for coronavirus yet, but Taillon said MLB and the MLBPA have discussed options to get people tested and making sure there is a treatment plan in place.
The players had a meeting with manager Derek Shelton, general manager Ben Cherington, team president Travis Williams and director of sports medicine Tom Tomczyk Friday to discuss a variety of topics, including health options and daily schedules.
The suspension of spring training and delay of the season could impact player pay, but it will definitely impact thousands of others who rely on sports for income.
On Thursday, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers said he will donate $100,000 to team and arena staff who will be affected. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will pay stadium employees through the end of March as if they were working.
Pirates players have discussed a similar plan, but nothing is in place right now.
"We understand that this game affects much more than just us," Taillon said.
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