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  • Yelich: 50-50 chance MLB is played in 2020
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 8, 2020

    While Major League Baseball and the players union are exploring various avenues for starting the delayed season, at least one superstar isn't convinced the season will be held at all.

    • Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich told WEEI Radio in Boston on Tuesday that he believes there is as good a possibility as not that the coronavirus pandemic will wipe out the 2020 campaign entirely.

      "There's a very real chance that we don't play as much as there is that we do play. I would say it is probably 50-50," Yelich said on the "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" show.

      The radio hosts, Boston media personality Glenn Ordway, former Boston Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni and former New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria, asked Yelich about the possible MLB plan reported Monday night that could see the season started with closed-door games between teams sequestered in the Phoenix area.

      "I think late last night was the first time I'd actually heard of that plan," the 2018 National League MVP said. "I think a lot of guys have been talking about it today, obviously. I think there are a lot of challenges to that plan.

      "I don't think that is the plan that they are for sure going with. I could be wrong. I would have to look into it a little more, but it would definitely be challenging.

      "Now, maybe that is something that we have to do just because of the times that we're in, and if that is our only option to play then maybe it is our only option to play. I think there's definitely a lot of hurdles and challenges that need to be talked through."

      Yelich added that he has heard no whispers regarding a possible timetable for a rescheduled Opening Day.

      "Nobody really knows a start date or when that would even be a possibility, so that is the most challenging thing," Yelich said. "It is hard to plan for when we're going to start when we don't know when we are going to start and that impacts the schedule. There's a lot of options, and all this depends on when we're able to start and really if we're able to start.

      "From the players' point of view, we all want to play, obviously, but, we want to make sure it is safe and that it's the right time to do it."

      Yelich, 28, finished runner-up in NL MVP voting last season after leading the league in batting average (.329), on-base percentage (.429) and slugging percentage (.671) while adding 44 homers and 97 RBIs.

      In 2018, he paced the NL in batting average (.326) and slugging percentage (.598) while amassing 36 homers and 110 RBIs.

      In his major league career with the Miami Marlins (2013-17) and the Brewers (2018-19), Yelich has a batting line of .301/.383/.492 with 139 homers and 500 RBIs in 920 games. He has received three Silver Slugger awards and one Gold Glove honor.

      Yelich signed a nine-year, $215 million contract with the Brewers this offseason.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB considering 'numerous plans' including closed-door restart in Arizona
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 7, 2020

    Major League Baseball is exploring the possibility of restarting its season with games behind closed doors at facilities in the Arizona area, multiple media outlets reported late Monday night.

    • MLB released a statement Tuesday morning saying no decisions have been made.

      "MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so," the statement read. "While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan. While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association. The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus."

      MLB hopes the first games could occur as soon as May, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, who added that sources indicated June might be "more realistic."

      MLB, like all other major North American sports leagues, is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 12, MLB halted spring training and pushed back its scheduled Opening Day from March 26 to mid-April. On March 16, the start of the season was pushed back indefinitely.

      Since then, team owners and the players union have discussed plans to complete as much of the 162-game schedule as possible while still following the advice of medical experts regarding the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

      The proposed Arizona plan would see games played at the Arizona Diamondbacks' home, Chase Field in Phoenix, as well as the 10 spring training stadiums within 25 miles of Phoenix.

      According to ESPN, the teams and "essential personnel" would be housed in area hotels, traveling only to and from the stadiums for games. The report stated, "Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institute of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return."

      The willingness of the union to agree to have the players quarantined away from their families for an indefinite stretch is one of the many potential stumbling blocks to the proposal. Another, according to ESPN, is concern about the health of managers, coaches and other older personnel whose risk of problems related to COVID-19 is greater is than that of the players.

      Maneuvering to arrange housing, security and transportation, among other matters, amid "stay at home" orders such as the one enacted in Arizona as of March 31 further complicate the potential for the proposal to be enacted.

      The Arizona Republic reported that the Phoenix-area plan was just one option MLB is exploring, with a source telling the newspaper, "They're talking about everything. There's nothing they can rule out."

      --Field Level Media

  • Hall of Famer, Tigers icon Kaline dies at 85
    By Field Level Media / Monday, April 6, 2020

    Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who spent all 22 of his seasons with the Detroit Tigers, died on Monday, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was 85.

    • The cause of death wasn't immediately known. The Free Press said Kaline died at his home in Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit.

      Kaline, a Baltimore native, played in 18 All-Star Games, was a 10-time Gold Glove winner and had 3,007 hits and 399 homers with the Tigers from 1953-74.

      The player universally known as 'Mr. Tiger' was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1980. The Tigers also retired his No. 6 that year.

      Kaline went directly to the majors as an 18-year-old, signing for $35,000 in 1953. He remains the youngest player (20 years, 280 days) to win the American League batting title, after he batted .340 in 1955.

      The well-respected Kaline served in several roles for the Tigers following his playing career, and was always willing to give tips to up-and-comers or budding stars.

      That included Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, the former ace for the Tigers.

      "Such a kind and generous man who meant so much to so many," Verlander said on Twitter. "I hope you knew how much I enjoyed our conversations about baseball, life, or just giving each other a hard time. I am honored to have been able to call you my friend for all these years. R.I.P. Mr Tiger, Al Kaline."

      Kaline emerged as a star in 1955, when he had 200 hits -- which led the majors -- for the lone time in his career and made the All-Star team for the first of 13 straight seasons. He was also known for his strong throwing arm in right field that caused many a runner to pause on the bases.

      He hit more than 20 homers on nine occasions and drove in 100-plus runs three times. Kaline finished with his career with a .297 average and 1,582 RBIs.

      Kaline was limited to 102 games in 1968 due to a broken left forearm but returned to help the Tigers reach the World Series. He batted .379 with two homers, two doubles and eight RBIs in the series, as Detroit defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

      Kaline recorded his 3,000th hit on Sept. 14, 1974 off Orioles left-hander Dave McNally in his hometown of Baltimore.

      Former Baltimore star pitcher turned broadcaster Jim Palmer, also a Hall of Famer, remembered the batter he often faced.

      "One of my favorite people, Al Kaline passes away," Palmer said on Twitter. "Such a graceful, elegant player. Always put the Tigers on my away schedule, just to see, talk with Al. My condolences to Louise , family and friends. #RIP"

      A statue of Kaline stands outside of Comerica Park, and he has remained highly popular more than 40 years after his retirement.

      Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was among the people paying tribute shortly after Kaline's death began circulating.

      "So sad to hear about the passing of Al Kaline. He was a legend on and off the field," Whitmer said on Twitter. "Through his 22 seasons with the team, he brought joy to generations of Tigers fans across our state as he worked his way into the 3,000 club. Farewell, Mr. Tiger."

      Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, "Many of us who are fortunate enough to work in Baseball have our short lists of the players who mean the most to us. Al Kaline was one of those players for me and countless others, making this a very sad day for our sport. A lifelong Tiger, Al was a true gentleman and one of the National Pastime's most universally respected figures. I appreciated his friendship, humility and the example that he always set for others since he debuted as an 18-year-old rookie.

      "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Al's wife, Louise, their family and friends, his admirers and the generations of Tiger fans who looked up to him."

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros' Verlander will donate pay during MLB shutdown
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 4, 2020

    Veteran Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander said he will donate his adjusted paycheck during MLB's coronavirus shutdown to multiple organizations providing assistance during the crisis.

    • Verlander made the announcement via Instagram on Saturday along with his wife, Kate Upton.

      "Everyone around the world is affected by this virus, and we hope to contribute to the families and jobs affected, the healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines and the many others in need of basic necessities, medical supplies and support at home," Verlander wrote on his post. "As soon as the first paycheck is received we will be highlighting the first organization."

      MLB players are receiving up-front pay while baseball is on hiatus. Verlander is scheduled to receive $286,500 over the course of 60 days, with players obligated to pay back the up-front sum if the season is played. The 37-year old was scheduled to make $33 million this season.

      "We know everyone is impacted by this crisis, but for those who are able, we encourage you to stay home to help flatten the curve and look to those around you who need a helping hand," Verlander wrote.

      Verlander was the American League's Cy Young Award winner in 2019, after he finished with a 21-6 record and a 2.58 ERA over 34 starts. He pitched a league-best 223 innings for the Astros.

      The two-time Cy Young Award winner and 2011 AL MVP is 225-129 over 453 starts during a 15-year career with the Detroit Tigers and Astros.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: MLB could start season at spring training sites
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 4, 2020

    Major League Baseball is considering the use of spring training sites to start the 2020 regular season, most likely in Arizona, with the players quarantined and no fans in the stands, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported.

    • MLB pushed back its scheduled March 26 start date because of the coronavirus pandemic and hasn't set a new date for Opening Day as it weighs its options.

      While extending the season until Thanksgiving and playing multiple doubleheaders are options discussed between MLB and the players union, Rosenthal said games in Florida and Arizona also are possible.

      Arizona would be more likely logistically because the spring training sites are closer together, but it still presents a problem to house all 30 teams in one area. Rosenthal added the plan could be "potentially controversial, sources say, requiring local, state and federal government cooperation and resources that might be necessary to fight the coronavirus pandemic."

      Rosenthal said there is some worry that despite being isolated from the public, players could be exposed to the coronavirus from a hotel worker, for example, who leaves the property and encounters someone with the disease.

      While MLB had hoped for a mid-May start, that is unlikely. There are social distancing guidelines in place through the end of April and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against gatherings of 50 or more through at least May 10.

      With the coronavirus yet to reach its peak in the United States, the CDC could extend that date.

      As of Saturday, there were more than 290,000 cases and about 8,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

      --Field Level Media

  • Phillies' Harper, Mets' Matz donate to virus relief efforts
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 4, 2020

    Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz have stepped to the plate by making donations to coronavirus relief efforts.

    • Harper and his wife, Kayla, are donating $500,000 to Direct Relief and Three Square in his hometown of Las Vegas and Philabundance in Philadelphia.

      Direct Relief in Las Vegas is a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that assists people affected by poverty or emergencies. Three Square and Philabundance are both food banks.

      "Now is the time to come together and adhere to the guidelines of medical professionals! We are wishing the best to all with our prayers during this time," the Harpers said in a statement Thursday.

      Matz, who wears jersey No. 32, is donating $32,000 through TRU32 charity to New York City first responders and hospitals.

      "Thanks to those who support & contribute to the program all year. Partially because of your generosity, we're able to pitch in now," Matz wrote Friday on Twitter. "The first of three donations just went out to one of the hardest hit hospitals in NYC, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, so close to our Mets Citi Field."

      --Field Level Media

  • Judge dismisses fantasy players' suit over MLB sign-stealing
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 3, 2020

    A class-action lawsuit by daily fantasy sports players maintaining that they were cheated by the Houston Astros' and Boston Red Sox's illegal sign-stealing was thrown out by a federal judge in New York on Friday.

    • The plaintiffs maintained that the two teams' actions made daily fantasy games "corrupt and dishonest." The suit had targeted Major League Baseball and DraftKings, which is partially owned by MLB.

      However, Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the claim, even though he lambasted the Astros and the Red Sox for "shamelessly" violating MLB's rules.

      "But did the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly of Major League Baseball itself, to conceal these foul deeds from the simple sports bettors who wagered on fantasy baseball create a cognizable legal claim?" Rakoff asked. "On the allegations here made, the answer is no."

      Rakoff's 32-page opinion included the judge's assertion that the two implicated teams "broke the hearts of all true baseball fans."

      The judge added, according to Law.com, "A sport that celebrates 'stealing,' even if only of a base, may not provide the perfect encouragement to scrupulous play. Nor can it be denied that an overweening desire to win may sometimes lead our heroes to employ forbidden substances on their (spit) balls, their (corked) bats, or even their (steroid-consuming) selves."

      "But, as Frank Sinatra famously said to Grace Kelly (in the 1956 movie musical High Society), 'There are rules about such things.'"

      He decided that the plaintiffs' "verbose, rhetorical, and largely conclusory complaint" didn't prove that MLB had a legal duty to bettors to prevent misdeeds by baseball players.

      After an MLB investigation into the Astros' sign-stealing operation, the league fined the team the maximum allowable amount of $5 million, took away Houston's first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year in a ruling made in January.

      The Astros immediately fired both Hinch and Lunhow after the suspensions were announced.

      The Red Sox previously were fined for illegal sign-stealing, but the full extent of their punishment has yet to be announced by MLB.

      --Field Level Media

  • Retired Gattis: '17 Astros 'cheated baseball, fans'
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 3, 2020

    Evan Gattis fought to win a World Series ring with the Houston Astros and got one in 2017. Looking back, it feels like he lost.

    • Gattis was with the Astros for their historic run, which since has been disgraced by revelations of a sign-stealing scheme that cost general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch their jobs and a one-year ban from baseball. The repercussions swept up two other managers -- the New York Mets fired Carlos Beltran and the Boston Red Sox parted with Alex Cora -- who were part of the scheme in Houston in 2017.

      "Everybody wants to be the best player in the (expletive) world, man," Gattis told The Athletic's "755 Is Real" podcast. "And we cheated that, for sure. And we obviously cheated baseball and cheated fans. Fans felt duped. I feel bad for fans.

      "I'm not asking for sympathy or anything like that. If our punishment is being hated by everybody forever, just like, whatever. I don't know what should be done, but something had to (expletive) be done. I do agree with that, big-time. I do think it's good for baseball that we're cleaning it up. ... And I understand that it's not (expletive) good enough to say sorry. I get it."

      Astros All-Stars Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve apologized publicly in brief statements at the start of spring training in February.

      Gattis, who retired after the 2018 season, isn't the first member of the 2017 team to air a guilty conscience. Blue Jays reliever Ken Giles, the Astros' closer in 2017, said he would give his World Series ring back if asked.

      Baseball launched an investigation after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, now with the Oakland Athletics, told The Athletic details of the sign-stealing operation, which included reviewing signs from a digital replay room and banging a garbage can a certain number of times based on the pitch that was coming.

      The Astros were stripped of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and were fined $5 million, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the team would not lose its World Series title.

      The 33-year-old Gattis said he didn't think Hinch liked the team cheating by stealing signs and said Beltran and others didn't put pressure on players to participate.

      "Nobody made us do (expletive). You know what I'm saying? People saying this guy made us, that guy made us, that's not it. But you have to understand the situation was powerful," he said. "You work your whole life to try to (expletive) hit a ball, and you mean you can tell me what's coming? It was like, 'What?' It's a powerful thing, and there's millions of dollars on the line and (expletive). And that's the bad of it, too, that's where people got hurt. And that's not right. That's not playing the game right."

      Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger filed a civil lawsuit against the Astros, alleging the sign-stealing caused a four-run, 29-pitch outing that effectively ended his career.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers' Turner: Settle games with HR derby after 10th inning
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 2, 2020

    Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has a radical plan for keeping games from running too long.

    • Speaking Thursday with Spectrum SportsNet, Turner proposed having games be decided by a home run derby should the score still be level after the 10th inning.

      He brought up the suggestion as part of a discussion about how the baseball season will look once play starts after the coronavirus pandemic eases.

      "Everyone's on board -- and I mean players and owners -- and the goal is to play as many games as possible," Turner said from his Southern California home. "There's nothing off limits right now, as far as I understand. ... It could be multiple doubleheaders a week, it could be seven-inning doubleheaders.

      "There could be some new extra-inning rules being implemented. That's all conversations that will be had when we get a better idea of when the season is going to start. Roster expansion, (injured-list) stints ... it's all on the table right now. This is my opportunity to push for a home run derby in extra innings."

      Turner explained his plan: "Instead of playing 17 innings, you get one extra inning, you play the 10th inning, and no one scores, then you go to a home run derby. You take each team's three best hitters and you give them all five outs and see who hits the most homers."

      "You want to keep fans in the stands until the end of the game. I know when I go to hockey games, I actually enjoy watching shootouts. That keeps me in my seat, so maybe a home run derby will do that as well."

      Turner's Dodgers would have strong options if the home run derby formula is implemented. He hit 27 homers last year but wound up just fourth on the team behind National League MVP Cody Bellinger (47), Joc Pederson (36) and Max Muncy (35). And in the offseason, the Dodgers added Mookie Betts, who hit 29 homers in 2019.

      Turner, 35, was the MVP of the 2017 National League Championship Series and made the All-Star Game that same season. He has 120 homers in 1,072 career games with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets and Los Angeles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Edmonds recovering, details coronavirus issues
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 2, 2020

    Former Gold Glove outfielder Jim Edmonds made one of his most valuable catches when he pushed emergency room personnel to test him for the coronavirus.

    • Edmonds, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was diagnosed with pneumonia, said he went to the hospital with symptoms of the coronavirus but was told he didn't need a test. Edmonds insisted on being seen by ER personnel and eventually was tested for the coronavirus.

      "If you don't feel good, go to the doctor or go to the emergency room if you can't breathe. That's what happened to me," Edmonds said via Instagram, adding that he's quarantined with his oldest daughter. "They didn't want to test me, and I forced them to take me into the emergency room, and, lo and behold, pneumonia and the virus. So, don't take it lightly, take care of yourselves. There's no medicine, there's no nothing, but rest, and that's all I've been doing."

      Edmonds, 49, played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball. He was a four-time All-Star, won eight Gold Gloves and was part of the St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series in 2006.

      He broke in with the California Angels in 1993, the first of six teams in his career.

      --Field Level Media

  • White Sox play-by-play man Farmer dies at 70
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 2, 2020

    Former Major League Baseball pitcher and longtime Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ed Farmer died Wednesday night. He was 70.

    • Farmer, who worked for the team as a broadcaster the past 28 years after 11 seasons as a big-league pitcher, was a surviving recipient of a kidney transplant.

      "Ed Farmer was the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox for three decades, and he called no-hitters, perfect games and of course, a World Series championship," Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "His experience as a major league All-Star pitcher, his wry sense of clubhouse humor, his love of baseball and his passion for the White Sox combined to make White Sox radio broadcasts the sound of summer for millions of fans. Ed grew up a Sox fan on the south side of Chicago and his allegiance showed every single night on the radio as he welcomed his ‘friends' to the broadcast. I am truly devastated by the loss of my friend."

      Farmer, who received the kidney transplant in 1991, missed 30 games in the radio booth last season due to health issues.

      He was born in Evergreen Park, Ill., and made the All-Star Game in 1980 as a reliever for the White Sox. His pitching career also included stints with the Indians, Orioles, Brewers, Rangers, Phillies, Tigers and Athletics.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Ex-Astros manager, GM suspended only for 2020 even if no season
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 2, 2020

    Former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch won't be subject to additional punishment for their role in Houston's sign-stealing scheme even if there is no season in 2020, ESPN reported.

    • Luhnow and Hinch received one-year suspensions after an investigation showed the Astros implemented a system to alert their own batters of what pitches were coming by intercepting signs stolen using a digital replay room in 2017 and part of the 2018 season.

      In handing down the punishment at the conclusion of the Major League Baseball investigation, commissioner Rob Manfred said the punishment ran through the end of the "2020 World Series."

      Opening Day of the 2020 season already has been pushed back until at least mid-May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      But ESPN's Buster Olney said Thursday that MLB told him both suspensions would be considered served in 2020 with no additional punishment or extension.

      Manfred said he is planning to release the findings of his investigation of the Boston Red Sox before the season begins. Manager Alex Cora was fired after the investigation into the Astros found Cora to be a ringleader of the 2017 scheme while he was a coach with the Astros.

      The Astros won the World Series in 2017 and the Red Sox, with Cora as a rookie manager, won in 2018.

      --Field Level Media

  • Athletics' Garrison making progress in coronavirus fight
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    The fiancee of Oakland Athletics minor league manager Webster Garrison says the 54-year-old is "turning the corner" in his battle with the coronavirus.

    • Nikki Trudeaux, who has been posting updates on Garrison's conditions on social media sites, said Garrison's health has improved in recent days.

      Trudeaux previously disclosed Garrison is on a ventilator as he deals with the coronavirus in a Louisiana hospital.

      "Web was 100% dependent on the ventilator yesterday morning, 80% this morning and now 60% tonight," Trudeau wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. "His respiratory blood work came back really good, too!! He's coming back to us y'all!! He is turning the corner!"

      The Athletics announced late last week that a minor league staffer had tested positive for COVID-19, but the club didn't identify Garrison.

      "We want to extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers to our colleague for a speedy recovery," the team said. "We are committed to providing him and his family with support and care. Every person on our team plays a critical role to our success and we look forward to his return to the field when he is healthy."

      Garrison served as manager of the Class A Stockton Ports last season. He is expected to lead one of the club's Arizona rookie-level teams this season.

      Garrison played five games for the Athletics in 1996 and went hitless in nine at-bats with one walk. He became a coach at Oakland's minor league level in 1999 and is entering his 22nd season with the organization.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rangers DH Choo donates $1K to team's 190 minor league players
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo is making a $1,000 donation to each of the approximately minor-league players in Texas' farm system.

    • Choo, 37, spent three seasons in the minors before he broke into the big leagues.

      "I came here with nothing, but baseball has given me a lot since," Choo told Naver Sports of South Korea. "Minor league players are the future of our organization. I just hope that they can fight through and overcome this difficult time."

      Choo is slated to earn $21 million this season, the final year of a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers.

      He was signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2004 and began a ride through the minors as a teenager.

      --Field Level Media

  • Diamondbacks IF Ahmed would play while wearing mask
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    Nick Ahmed is ready to get back to baseball, and the Arizona Diamondbacks infielder said the team is willing to take the field in protective masks in the name of safety.

    • Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association continue dialogue regarding returning to the field and the stipulations for starting the season. Spring training was postponed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      Other pro sports leagues have held similar conversations, which include the possibility of playing in empty stadiums and arenas. Japan's Nippon Pro Baseball is resuming spring workouts, but one of the most highly regarded international pitchers -- Shintaro Fujinami -- has tested positive for the coronavirus. That league still plans to start the regular season April 24.

      Health officials in the United States have advised against using masks for non-medical purposes due to the state-by-state shortage of appropriate personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks in hospitals.

      Ahmed told the Associated Press that he would endorse wearing the mask if baseball suggested the use of face coverings temporarily.

      "I'll be up for anything at this point just to be able to play," Ahmed said. "If they said, 'Hey, you can start games on May 15th or June 1st, but you have to wear masks.' If that's the only thing holding us back then sure, guys would do it."

      "If it comes to playing with no fans for a little while, as much as that would be extremely weird and strange, we'd be open to it. Hopefully it wouldn't have to last a long time but to get more games in and get games on TV for fans to watch, we're all for that."

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB cancels Cubs-Cards series in London
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    Major League Baseball has canceled a two-game series in London between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    • The National League Central rivals had been slated to play at Olympic Stadium on June 13-14.

      "We made the decision because it was unlikely the events would go forward, and timely cancellation allowed us to preserve important financial resources," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a memorandum sent to league employees Wednesday.

      "We also have canceled agreements with service providers and delayed projects that involve large capital expenditures."

      MLB was bidding to play in Europe for the second consecutive year. The New York Yankees swept a pair of games from the Boston Red Sox in London on June 29-30, 2019.

      MLB, which initially planned Opening Day for March 26, has delayed the start of its season until mid-May at the earliest.

      The league had already canceled series scheduled for this season in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

      The San Diego Padres had been slated to play the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 18-19 in Mexico City, and the New York Mets were booked to play the Miami Marlins on April 28-30 in San Juan.

      --Field Level Media

  • Andrews suspends Tommy John surgeries
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 31, 2020

    Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews won't perform Tommy John surgeries at his Florida clinic amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    • "We are not performing any non-urgent or non-emergent procedures, including Tommy John surgery, in compliance with the governor's executive order," a spokesperson for the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine told the Boston Globe. "We are adhering to these restrictions and all such cases are suspended at this time."

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning any surgery that wasn't immediately necessary or life-saving on March 20 to preserve medical resources for the seriously ill. Still, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery late last week in West Palm Beach, Fla., where it was performed by Dr. David Altchek.

      Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale underwent the elbow surgery on Monday at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

      The facilities in West Palm Beach and Los Angeles are not public hospitals, rather specialized orthopedic facilities.

      Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Sale's surgery, defended continuing the procedures in an interview last week with the San Francisco Chronicle.

      "I know that I'm going to get criticized for taking care of these kinds of guys, but it's essential to their livelihoods," he said. "If you have somebody's career at stake and they lose two seasons instead of one, I would say that is not a nonessential or unimportant elective procedure."

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB extends pay for minor leaguers
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 31, 2020

    Major League Baseball teams will continue to pay minor leaguers $400 a week plus medical benefits through May 31, or until the delayed season opens.

    • As with MLB play, the minor league season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

      Each team also will provide support to players on Dominican Summer League rosters during the same time frame, MLB said in a statement.

      MLB previously announced the players would receive pay through April 8 -- the day before the minor league season was set to start.

      Major League Baseball previously announced a joint $1 million MLB-MLBPA food assistance fund to help people affected by the pandemic and a 30-Club, $30 million effort to support ballpark workers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox LHP Sale undergoes Tommy John surgery
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 30, 2020

    Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale underwent what the team called "successful" Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm Monday, a procedure that is expected to sideline him into the 2021 season.

    • Famed surgeon Neal ElAttrache performed the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, according to a release by the club.

      Sale, who turned 31 on Monday, underwent an MRI exam earlier this month that led to the diagnosis of a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm. At that point, ElAttrache and Dr. James Andrews were hoping rest and rehabilitation would allow Sale to avoid surgery.

      "I talked to many doctors," Sale said on March 5. "World-renowned. They seemed confident. Everyone agreed -- take some time off, get some anti-inflammatories in there, start another throwing program and see what we get."

      Sale, a seven-time All-Star, began throwing again two weeks ago at the team's facility in Fort Myers, Fla., and apparently the elbow didn't respond favorably.

      Sale went on the disabled last August due to elbow inflammation and missed the rest of the season.

      Sale posted a 6-11 record with a 4.40 ERA in 2019, the worst year statistically of his career since he entered the Chicago White Sox's rotation in 2012. Excluding his time as a reliever in 2010 and '11, he posted career lows in starts (25), wins and innings pitched (147 1/3) and the highest ERA in 2019.

      He has a 109-73 career record (35-23 with Boston) with a 3.03 ERA. Sale has 2,007 strikeouts in 1,629 2/3 innings over 312 games (232 starts). His strikeout-to-walk ratio, 5.37, is the best in baseball history.

      Sale signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension in March 2019. The deal runs through the 2024 season and will pay him $30 million in 2020.

      --Field Level Media

  • Two Cubs' employees tested positive for coronavirus
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 29, 2020

    Two employees of the Chicago Cubs tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, according to multiple reports on Sunday.

    • The team said both employees attended an annual training session at Wrigley Field on March 8.

      The Cubs said the positive test results were received on March 23 and 24. The team sent out an email to staff members on Friday.

      The club urged all staff members to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also issued a reminder to closely monitor their health.

      The Major League Baseball season is currently on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, which also shut down the NBA, NHL and MLS, caused the cancelation of the NCAA basketball tournaments and the postponement of numerous other sporting events.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former star OF Edmonds hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 28, 2020

    Former four-time All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds said Saturday that he has been hospitalized due to coronavirus symptoms and is awaiting test results.

    • Edmonds, 49, revealed his situation on Instagram, and displayed a picture of himself wearing a mask.

      "Held off as long as I could," Edmonds wrote. "I thought I was tough enough to get through. This virus is no joke. #gethealthy."

      Edmonds smacked 393 career homers in 17 seasons -- primarily with the Angels (1993-99) and Cardinals (2000-07) -- and was known for highlight-reel defensive catches that helped him win eight Gold Gloves.

      He currently is a broadcaster on St. Louis' games for Fox Sports Midwest.

      "Thinking of our friend, Jim Edmonds, and hoping he starts feeling better soon!" the Cardinals tweeted Saturday.

      Edmonds also played for the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds. He batted .284 with 1,199 RBIs in 2,011 career games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Plan for Thanksgiving baseball being considered
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 27, 2020

    There could be baseball during the 2020 holidays, with USA Today reporting Friday that both Major League Baseball and its players are willing to extend the season until Thanksgiving in order to preserve as much of the schedule as possible.

    • USA Today also reported that under a deal reached Friday, players with guaranteed contracts will start receiving an advance of $5,000 a day for 60 days, up to a maximum of $300,000. Players would be obligated to give the money back if a season is played.

      ESPN reported Friday that the deal includes a stipulation in which games will not resume until a ban on mass gatherings is lifted, although neutral-site games and games without fans are options that can be revisited.

      The plan to extend the season until Thanksgiving is slightly less ambitious than the one super-agent Scott Boras proposed to the Los Angeles Times this week that would put a potential Game 6 of the World Series on Christmas Day.

      Scheduling of games into late November and December could force the use of neutral-site venues in warm-weather cities, or in cities with domed stadiums, although few details were revealed in the Thanksgiving plan that was reported on Twitter.

      Baseball's Opening Day was set to take place Thursday, but the coronavirus pandemic halted the schedule indefinitely. A best-case scenario reportedly has spring training resuming in May, with a start to the season in June, although the delay could be longer, if games are even played at all.

      The intention of Boras' plan was to preserve a 162-game regular season, while the Thanksgiving plan would be done "just to play as many games resembling a full season as possible," according to USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale.

      Nightengale also reported Friday that rosters could be expanded to 29 players for the first month after play resumes. That is up from the 26-man rosters which were scheduled to be in place for the first time this season.

      There is still no word on what will happen to the All-Star Game, which is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Syndergaard has successful Tommy John surgery
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 27, 2020

    New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard had successful Tommy John surgery on Thursday, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Friday morning.

    • The Mets announced earlier this week that the surgery would take place in Florida.

      Syndergaard felt discomfort in his throwing elbow earlier this month during spring training, and an MRI exam revealed that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament.

      Passan said Syndergaard is expected to be sidelined anywhere from 12 to 14 months and will return to the mound sometime in 2021.

      The 27-year-old Syndergaard was 10-8 with a career-worst 4.28 ERA in 32 starts last season. He pitched a career-high 197 2/3 innings and struck out 202.

      Syndergaard was an All-Star in 2016 when he went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings.

      Overall, he is 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA in 119 career appearances (118 starts) since reaching the majors with the Mets in 2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: MLB, union reach deal on stoppage-related issues
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 27, 2020

    Discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association regarding issues surrounding the coronavirus-induced work stoppage produced an agreement, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday night.

    • The league received the right to shorten the number of rounds in the next two drafts while also pushing back the international signing periods through 2022, according to Passan.

      In return, the players reportedly were guaranteed full service-time credit for 2020, even if no games are played this year. That means Mookie Betts, Marcus Stroman and dozens of other players will hit free agency as originally scheduled next winter regardless of when or if baseball resumes this year.

      Arbitration cases also would take into account the potential reduction in games this year, treating players' 2020 statistics on a pro-rated basis when using past stats as a benchmark.

      The MLBPA approved the deal on a conference call with more than 80 players, and the owners plan to affirm the agreement on a Friday call, Passan reported.

      Another key element of the reported agreement was ownership advancing the players $170 million over the next two months, with the players vowing not to sue for their full salaries in case the season is completely wiped out.

      Per the report, the MLBPA will distribute the funds to players in four different levels, with the money considered an advance against the pro-rated salaries they would receive later.

      The owners received the right to cut the 2020 draft to five rounds, and the 2021 draft could be pared down to 20 rounds, according to Passan. Last year's draft went 40 rounds.

      Earlier Thursday, ESPN reported that MLB plans to delay the draft, scheduled for June 10-12, by at least one month. Also, payment of signing bonuses reportedly could be deferred until 2021 or 2022.

      The 2020 international signing period could be pushed back as far as January 2021, with the 2021-22 international signing period potentially being delayed to 2022, per the report.

      Thursday was scheduled to be Opening Day for all 30 MLB teams, but spring training was halted on March 12, when an announcement was made that the start of the season would be delayed by at least two weeks.

      MLB announced on March 16 that it was postponing the start of the season indefinitely.

      On Wednesday night, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN's Scott Van Pelt that all options remain open for when play might start and what a potentially shortened season might look like.

      "The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back," Manfred said. "Whenever it's safe to play, we'll be back. Our fans will be back. Our players will be back. And we will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country, from this particular pandemic."

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros great Jimmy 'Toy Cannon' Wynn dies at 78
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, March 26, 2020

    Jimmy Wynn, a power-hitting, strong-throwing outfielder who ranks as one of the Houston Astros' all-time greats, died Thursday at age 78.

    • The Astros announced the death of Wynn, who served as a community outreach executive for the club. Wynn was nicknamed the "Toy Cannon," a reference to his impressive arm and bat in relation to his 5-foot-9 stature.

      The team wrote in a statement, "Today, we lost a very big part of the Astros family with the passing of Jimmy Wynn. His contributions to our organization both on and off the field are too numerous to mention. As an All-Star player in the 1960s and '70s, Jimmy's success on the field helped build our franchise from its beginnings. After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston.

      "Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Marie, daughter, Kimberly, son, James Jr., to the other members of his family and to his many fans and admirers."

      Born in Cincinnati on March 12, 1942, Wynn played with the Colt .45s/Astros from 1963-73, making the National League All-Star team in 1967. He ranked second in the NL that year with a career-high 37 homers -- even though he played half his games in the spacious Astrodome.

      He was an All-Star in both of his seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1974 and '75) before finishing his career by playing for the Atlanta Braves (1976), New York Yankees (1977) and Milwaukee Brewers (1977).

      In 15 major league seasons, Wynn batted .250 with a .366 on-base percentage, a .436 slugging percentage, 291 homers, 964 RBIs and 225 stolen bases in 1,920 games. He twice led the NL in walks and once topped the league in strikeouts.

      The Astros retired Wynn's uniform No. 24 in 2005.

      --Field Level Media