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FAQ: How coronavirus impacts Astros, MLB

@brianmctaggart
March 16, 2020

HOUSTON -- The Astros, along with the rest of baseball, are facing an uncertain schedule after Major League Baseball announced Friday that Spring Training camps in Arizona and Florida will be suspended, effective immediately, due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. After an in-person meeting with MLB

HOUSTON -- The Astros, along with the rest of baseball, are facing an uncertain schedule after Major League Baseball announced Friday that Spring Training camps in Arizona and Florida will be suspended, effective immediately, due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.

After an in-person meeting with MLB Players Association officials in Arizona, Major League Baseball said players can elect to return home, remain in their Spring Training cities, or return to their club’s home city. MLB said this step is in the best interests of players, employees and the communities who host Spring Training.

The Astros had a full staff and player team meeting on Friday, at which time all personnel were advised, per guidance from the Commissioner’s Office, to stay in Florida and avoid any unnecessary travel. Those instructions changed following the meeting between MLB and the MLBPA.

“This is on a national scale, not just a team scale,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We'll do whatever it takes to try to secure the health and wellness of our players and their families.”

No Astros have been tested for coronavirus, nor have they shown symptoms that would warrant a test, general manager James Click said Friday.

On Thursday, the Astros released the following statement:

“The health and safety of our fans, partners, employees and players will always be our top priority. The Houston Astros fully support Major League Baseball’s decision today to cancel the remaining Spring Training games, including the exhibition games -- and to delay the start of the regular season. We will continue to work with MLB, the CDC, as well as local and government health authorities and update our plans accordingly. We thank our fans for their patience and support and we encourage everyone to continue to exercise preventative measures recommended by the CDC and local health officials. We will communicate additional information, including our ticket policy for impacted games, as details become available.”

Here are some questions fans might have about the situation:

When will the season start?
There is no official start date for the season at this time. What we do know is that the start of the season will be delayed. Opening Day had been scheduled for Thursday, March 26, at Minute Maid Park.

MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to all 30 clubs in the coming days.

How will the schedule change to accommodate the late start?
According to the release sent by MLB, the league and teams have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular-season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

What’s going to happen with the rest of Spring Training?
Forthcoming Spring Training games were canceled as of 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, and 2020 World Baseball Classic qualifying games scheduled in Tucson, Ariz., were postponed indefinitely.

What about Minor League Baseball?
Minor League Baseball announced Thursday that the start of the regular season, originally scheduled for April 9, will be delayed indefinitely.

I have tickets to the home opener. What does this mean for me?
The Astros said they will communicate additional information, including their ticket policy for impacted games, as details become available.

What about tickets to other games?
Fans with tickets to Grapefruit League games at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches that were canceled can visit www.fitteamballpark.com for refund information.

How might this affect the Astros once play resumes?
Ace pitcher Justin Verlander will have at least two extra weeks to recuperate from a strained lat injury that was expected to sideline him for Opening Day. Reigning American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez missed more than a week of game action with a sore left knee, so he’ll also have additional time to heal.

What series are facing being rescheduled?
The Astros were set to open the season March 26 at home against the Angels in a four-game series, followed by a road trip to Oakland (March 30-April 1) and Anaheim (April 3-5). Houston was scheduled to play host to the Mets on April 7-8, but all those games won’t take place as scheduled.

What was scheduled for the first homestand?
The Astros were going to unveil their 2019 AL championship banner at Minute Maid Park on Opening Night at March 26, with the players receiving their AL championship rings during a ceremony March 27. The team had a José Altuve bobblehead giveaway scheduled for March 29 and a Justin Verlander Cy Young bobblehead scheduled for April 8 against the Mets.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.