The Major League Baseball schedule begins on April 1, setting up a full season of baseball for the fans. Minor League Baseball was set to begin days later, but this is no longer the case. The Triple-A season has moved its opening day to May due to COVID-19 and potential health issues.
According to ESPN, MLB sent out a memo on Tuesday confirming that the Minor League Baseball season will begin the first week of May. It will share the same timeframe as Double-A and Class A. "This is a prudent step to complete the major league and minor league seasons as safely as possible," MLB executive Morgan Sword told ESPN's Jeff Passan. "We look forward to having fans back in ballparks across the country very soon."
Passan's report continued to explain that the travel concerns played a role in the decision to delay the season. MLB teams have private planes to travel between games, but MiLB teams use commercial airlines. There were concerns about players contracting the virus in transit. Additionally, the delay was done with hopes that more players would have the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
The delay is not expected to shorten the Triple-A season. Instead, the games will likely run into September as part of an extended timeline. The season traditionally ends at the beginning of the month.
While the players wait for the season to begin, they will report to alternate sites run by their organization's MLB team ahead of opening day. They will continue to work out and train for the upcoming season schedule. These alternate sites were used during the 2020 season, which also dealt with major issues due to coronavirus.
Minor League Baseball previously delayed the start of the 2020 season when the coronavirus brought the sports world to a halt. The exact start date remained unknown as the situation continued to evolve. MLB later made the decision to cancel the entire MiLB season due to health and safety concerns.
"There are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time on our history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played," Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O'Conner said in a statement. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."