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Rob Manfred: Shorter season likely, eyeing May return

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said there are many options on the table for when the league returns, including increased doubleheaders, fewer innings, fewer regular-season games and an altered post-season format. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said there are many options on the table for when the league returns, including increased doubleheaders, fewer innings, fewer regular-season games and an altered post-season format. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 26 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says the league will likely play a shortened season in 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Manfred addressed the upcoming season Wednesday on ESPN. The MLB season was initially scheduled to begin Thursday before being pushed back indefinitely. MLB teams were in spring training before the season was suspended and spring training games were canceled.

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"My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May, we'll be gearing back up," Manfred said. "We'll have to make a determination, depending what the precise date is, as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is going to be done in the clubs' home cities or back in Florida and Arizona.

"I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal."

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MLB and the MLB Players Association have been exchanging proposals regarding players' salary and talked about how to return to the field amid the pandemic. Manfred said the league has been working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and has four infectious disease specialists providing the league with projections for the pandemic.

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"The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back," Manfred said.

The 162-game MLB regular season typically begins in March and ends in September before the playoffs start in October. Manfred said the league hopes to provide fans with "as many games as possible" in 2020. He also said decreasing the number of innings per game is on the table for consideration this season.

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The MLB is also considering changes to the post-season format and using doubleheaders to increase the number of games during the regular seasons.

"Obviously our fans love a 162-game season and the post-season format that we have; we're probably not going to be able to do that this year, I think that's clear," Manfred said. "It does give us an opportunity to do some different things, to experiment, and to make sure that we provide as many games as possible and as entertaining a product as possible."

Manfred has had ongoing conversations with other commissioners in major sports leagues, including Adam Silver of the NBA, Don Garber of the MLS, Gary Bettman of the NHL and Jay Monahan of the PGA Tour.

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