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Elephant Rumblings: Spring training still expected on time, but maybe not early

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Detroit Tigers Get Ready for Spring Training Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning afternoon, Athletics Nation!

We’ve officially begun 2021, but it’s not clear what the new year might look like in baseball. The coronavirus pandemic that interrupted and shortened the 2020 season is still ongoing, and perhaps even worsening. The vaccine has begun its rollout, but it will take a long time to get to everyone. Nobody knows precisely what the future holds.

For now, spring training is expected to start on time in Arizona and Florida, reports Evan Drellich of The Athletic, with normal report dates in mid-February. The Oakland A’s first Cactus League game is scheduled for Feb. 27, against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The situation could still change, but Drellich suggests the most likely way for any part of the schedule to be interrupted would be government action/shutdown of some kind to legally prevent it. Otherwise, the players’ firm stance is that they won’t shorten the season if it means another significant salary cut, and there doesn’t appear to be much the league can do about it without a mutual agreement.

However, while spring training is on track, it might not start early. The Cleveland Indians were informed to “hold off on early camp due to recent spike in number of new COVID 19 cases in Arizona,” reports Indians Prospective on Twitter. Indians Pro previously reported that the team was “set to open the 2021 Spring Training season in 4 waves. The first wave of 10 players will be [voluntarily] reporting on January 6th. Wave one will be tested on the 8th & begin workouts on the 11th. Everyone should be in camp by the final day of the month.”

Should we strap in for another labor battle between the players and owners this month? Will the situation resolve itself naturally, either positively (everything goes swimmingly as planned) or negatively (pandemic gets so much worse that the government has to shut down sports)? Stay tuned!

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