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FAQ: How coronavirus affects Red Sox, MLB

@IanMBrowne
March 13, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Thursday was the only scheduled off-day on the Grapefruit League schedule for the Red Sox. It turned out not to be the last one. MLB announced Thursday that the remainder of Spring Training games have been canceled and the start of the regular season will be

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Thursday was the only scheduled off-day on the Grapefruit League schedule for the Red Sox. It turned out not to be the last one.

MLB announced Thursday that the remainder of Spring Training games have been canceled and the start of the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Red Sox released the following statement regarding MLB’s announcement:

“The health and safety of our fans, players, and employees is of paramount importance. We thank them for their patience and support during this unprecedented time. We support Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season. Effective immediately, all Fenway Park and JetBlue Park tours and events are suspended until further notice. We hope our fans and everyone across the country remain safe as we all work together through this challenging time.”

The situation has created many questions for fans.

We will answer them as best we can below.

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 at least two weeks. Opening Day had been scheduled for Thursday, March 26.

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 4 p.m. ET 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.

What happens if I had tickets to the final seven home games of Spring Training that are no longer being played?

Spring Training Season Ticket Holders will be issued a credit on their account for all unplayed games. The credit will be valid for the 2021 season at JetBlue Park. All Spring Training individual game ticket buyers who purchased tickets directly from the Red Sox over the phone or online at redsox.com will be issued a refund to the account holder of record.

I have tickets to the home opener, what does this mean for me?

Major League Baseball has been working with the clubs on a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular-season schedule and will address regular-season tickets as soon as possible.

What about tickets to other early-season games?

See the previous answer.

When is the earliest the Red Sox could start their 2020 season?

Given that the MLB release stated that Opening Day will be delayed by “at least two weeks,” the earliest possible game would be on April 9. The current schedule has the Red Sox opening a West Coast trip in Seattle that night.

However, even before Thursday’s decision by MLB, the Mariners had already had their first seven home games through April 1 in question due to a government-mandated restriction on large crowds in the Seattle area.

When is the earliest the home opener could be?

The Fenway opener had been scheduled for April 2 against the White Sox as the start of a six-game homestand. Judging by the current schedule, the earliest the Red Sox will play at Fenway is April 17 against the Indians.

Which opponents did the Red Sox have on tap for the first two weeks of the season?

The Sox would have opened their season with a four-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays before completing the first road trip with a three-games against the Orioles. The first homestand included three games against the White Sox and three against the Rays.

Where will the players go?

On Friday, Red Sox players and staff will have a meeting at the team’s Spring Training complex to discuss the next steps going forward. The expectation is that the team will have non-mandatory workouts at the facility in the coming days, though nothing has been finalized.

How will the delayed start to the season impact Sale?

It’s possible the Red Sox can now be more conservative with ramping Chris Sale back up as he returns from a flexor strain in his left elbow. The original plan was that Sale could start throwing again as early as this weekend if he was pain free. That still might happen, but the Red Sox could wait longer to have him graduate to mound work.

Might Verdugo’s early-season loss be minimized?

The late start to the season certainly buys some time for outfielder Alex Verdugo to regain his full health. Verdugo has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back that he sustained last season with the Dodgers. Early May seems like a reasonable projection for Verdugo to return to action. Depending on when the season starts, the key acquisition in the Mookie Betts trade might not miss as much time in the regular season as originally thought.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.