SARASOTA, Florida—The Orioles were scheduled to open the 2020 season in two weeks against the New York Yankees. That March 26 opener at Oriole Park won’t be happening as Major League Baseball Thursday delayed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks and ended spring training in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
After the NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night, much of the sports world followed with cancellations and pauses. Baseball joined other sports with its announcement by commissioner Rob Manfred after a conference call with the 30 clubs.
Afternoon games in Florida began as scheduled Thursday, but two buses carrying Oriole players, coaches and support staff that left for Fort Myers around 1:15 p.m. returned a short time later. Players who drove in their private cars also returned to the facility. The game was scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Games were canceled as of 4 p.m. ET.
The Orioles played 19 of their 33 scheduled Grapefruit League games, with a record of nine wins, seven losses and three ties.
Besides the 14 remaining Florida games, including split-squad doubleheaders on Saturday and March 21, the Orioles were scheduled to play a March 24 game with the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
There are many questions to be answered. How long of a pause will there be? Will teams remain at their spring training headquarters? Will the season be extended to make up for lost games.
Earlier in the day, Alex Cobb, who was supposed to start in Thursday’s game but was scratched because of a blister, threw a simulated game along with Tommy Milone, who had been held back by a sore trapezius muscle.
Outfielder DJ Stewart, who hadn’t played in any Grapefruit League games because of his rehabilitation from ankle surgery, and catcher Chance Sisco, who has a sore right hand, both hit in the simulated game.