One week after pushing back the start of the exhibition season, Major League Baseball announced that Spring Training games in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will not be played until at least March 8.
The previous delay addressed games up until March 4, and an MLB spokesperson told reporters on Friday afternoon that the games on March 5-7 will not be played. MLB and the MLB Players Association continue to meet in Jupiter, Fla., this weekend with the hope of hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement.
The two sides have been meeting in Jupiter since Monday. MLB has instituted a deadline of Monday to complete a deal in order for the regular season to open as scheduled on March 31, leaving the league and the players union three more days to work out a deal.
In a statement Friday, MLB said, “While negotiations have yet to result in an agreement, we are committed to working around the clock through Monday’s deadline. We hope to preserve the full regular season that our fans deserve and the four weeks of Spring Training that players will need to get ready. Last week, the start of Spring Training games was postponed through March 4th. Unfortunately, in recognition of the realities of the calendar, Spring Training games will not begin sooner than Tuesday, March 8th.
“All 30 Clubs remain unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands. Because we are seeking an agreement that is fair to each side, we have been responsive to the stated goals of players. We are hopeful to resolve these issues with the regular season intact and look forward to this weekend’s discussions.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this month that, based on injury data and the experience of the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, Spring Training should be at least four weeks long in order for players to properly prepare for the season.