Biden administration senior officials reportedly spoke with Major League Baseball representatives last week about a one-month delay to the start of the 2021 season while players get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Administration officials told MLB they were confident in their ability to vaccinate players relatively quickly due to the expected introduction of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, The Athletic reported Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson was expected to file for FDA approval of its vaccine within a week, per Yahoo Sports.
The MLB Players Association, reportedly out of concern it would be pressured to agree to the delay, opted to schedule its own discussion with administration officials at a later date.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred informed teams Monday the season would start on time, with a Feb. 17 spring training report date and opening day on April 1. That was announced after the players association rejected a proposal to delay the season’s start.
The collective-bargaining agreement mandates a 162-game regular season, and the union would need incentive to push back the season. MLB had proposed a 154-game schedule Friday with full pay and paused arrivals to spring training until March 22, with regular-season games beginning April 28.
Still, the players rejected the offer.
The league also proposed expanded playoffs and use of the designated hitter in both the American and National Leagues. The DH currently is used only in the American League.
Arizona’s Cactus League, along with several local leaders, formally asked MLB to push back the start of spring due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Fifteen MLB teams hold spring training in The Grand Canyon State.
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