June is still more likely. There are lots of moving parts, but plans are starting to come together. One caveat is the expectation of readily available testing with rapid turnaround on results by early May, plenty of supplies such that it wouldn’t impact everyone else’s access to testing.
Part of the plan is to have the players in isolation at hotels in the Phoenix area and all games in Phoenix. There are 10 minor league/spring training venues and Chase Field that would be used—some other fields could possibly be used as well, but that’s at least 11 there. No fans allowed. Crews, coaches, and maybe media too will be kept in isolation. Rather than the dugouts, it’s expected the teams would sit in the empty stands, with 6 ft between players.
The MLBPA is buying in; it remains to be seen if players themselves are agreeable to being potentially separate from families 4-5 months. To not shut down in the event of a positive test, it’s likely the rosters will be expanded for the season, which means more players getting big league paychecks and accrue service time.
To squeeze in more games, more double headers are being discussed—with the double header games being 7 innings this year instead of 9. Robo-umps for ball/strike calls are being considered to allow the ump to separate himself from the catcher.
The teams obviously would lose the gate receipt income, but national telecasts would likely increase to offset that. A one-year change to revenue sharing to even out income from regional networks is also expected—the difference between highest and lowest regional TV incomes is about $100M.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s KBO has reopened camps, and intraquad games are viewable on YouTube. Actual games start in two weeks. They, too, are isolated in hotels and will play in empty venues. The social distancing rules are stricter there and enforced across their society. It’s also been stated that any player, coach, or staff member testing positive immediately shuts everything down again.
in any case, real progress to exiting baseball purgatory is afoot.