Coronavirus: MLB players allowed to leave spring training sites with Opening Day delayed, reports say

Major League Baseball on Friday informed teams that major-league and minor-league players would be allowed to leave spring training and return home until further notice because of the growing threat from novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to multiple reports. The decision came after MLB held an afternoon meeting with the players union. The Union has since issued a memo informing players of their options, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Those options include staying around their team’s spring training facility; returning to their offseason homes; and returning to their team’s home city. 

MLB shut down spring training in Arizona and Florida and announced the delay of Opening Day for that same reason on Thursday. Opening Day, which was originally scheduled for March 26, will take place no sooner than April 9. ESPN’s Jeff Passan hears from multiple MLB sources that games aren’t likely to be played before May. Considering that there’s no clear timeline and players will require another ramp-up period before being ready for game action, even May could be optimistic.

White Sox GM Rick Hahn has said all MLB player transactions have been frozen at least through the coming weekend. 

Some teams also announced plans to close their spring training facilities over the weekend to deep clean them as a precaution.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, CBS News reports. 

Here at CBS Sports we have a running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus. 

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