Commissioner Rob Manfred downplays MLB’s Arizona return

Rob Manfred MLB lockout
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred played down the notion that there is a concrete plan moving forward to ensure the game’s return in the coming weeks or months. 

Manfred appeared on Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on her show, “Mornings With Maria,” where he explained that the only way baseball is returning in any capacity is if he gets the all-clear from proper health-care officials. 

His comments are an anchor to the hopeful thought that baseball could return by May, with all 30 teams playing in the numerous facilities down in Arizona. 

“The only decision we have made, the only real plan that we have, is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation is improved to the point that we’re comfortable that we can play games in a manner that is safe for our players, our employees, our fans and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely,” Manfred said.

“Right now, it’s largely a waiting game. During that period — as you might expect any business would — we have engaged in contingency planning. We thought about how we might be able to return in various scenarios but again the key is the improvement in the public health situation.”

While sporting events with fans in attendance have remained out of the question since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Arizona plan picked up considerable steam over the last week, offering a sliver of hope that something familiar, like baseball, could return.

While it remains a viable option — albeit with a ton of speed bumps — Manfred was quick to point out that MLB’s Southwestern Eden isn’t within touching distance yet. 

“We have a variety of contingency plans that we have talked about and worked on,” Manfred said. “Plans may be too strong a word. Ideas … may be a better word. All of them are designed to address limitations that may exist when businesses restart – travel limitations, limitations on mass gatherings that may still exist. We thought about ways to try and make baseball available to all the fans across the United States in the face of those restrictions.”

“So from our perspective we don’t have a plan, we have lots of ideas. What ideas come to fruition will depend on what the restrictions are, what the public health situation is. But we are intent on the idea of trying to make baseball part of the recovery – the economic recovery – and sort of a milestone on the return of normalcy.”

Major League Baseball was supposed to start its regular season on March 26, but the coronavirus pandemic forced Manfred to cancel spring training last month and delay Opening Day indefinitely.