LAKELAND, Fla. -- Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that Spring Training has been suspended and that the start of the 2020 regular season will be delayed for at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously Major League Baseball thought it needed to be done. I agree with it, because we have to get a handle on it,” said Tigers general manager Al Avila, who was on a conference call with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred earlier in the day.
Here’s what we know about the Tigers’ situation as MLB goes on hold:
When will the season start?
There is no official start date for the regular 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 office 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 cancelled as of 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, and 2020 World Baseball Classic qualifying games scheduled in Tucson, Ariz., were postponed indefinitely.
What happens with my tickets for cancelled Spring Training games at Joker Marchant Stadium?
Spring Training season-ticket, flex plan and group-ticket holders will be contacted directly by a Tigers representative and will have the option of a complete refund or credit for 2021 Spring Training. Refunds will be issued to the account holder of record using the same method of payment used to buy the ticket. Prepaid parking passes will be refunded or credited separately.
Single-game ticket holders who bought their tickets at tigers.com or in person at Joker Marchant Stadium and used a credit card will have a complete refund issued to the same account. Fans who purchased their tickets with cash at the Joker Marchant Stadium ticket office will need to send the original tickets for a refund along with their name, address, email and daytime telephone number to:
Detroit Tigers Ticket Office
Attn: Spring Training
2301 Lakeland Hills Boulevard
Lakeland, Fla. 33805
Tickets purchased from a reseller cannot be refunded by the Tigers.
What about Minor League Baseball?
Minor League Baseball announced on Thursday that the start of the regular season, originally scheduled for April 9, will be delayed indefinitely.
Where will players go?
Tigers players were given the option of going home or staying in Lakeland to work out at the Tigertown facility. Most players are expected to stay in Lakeland and work out at the facility.
"We as players want to get ready and stay ready to play the game as soon as possible," Tigers pitcher and Players Association representative Matthew Boyd said.
What happens with rosters?
Spring Training rosters are effectively on hold, Avila said. Once Major League Baseball decides how and when to proceed, player moves can resume.
I have tickets to the home opener, what does this mean for me?
The Tigers’ home opener, originally scheduled for Monday, March 30, will not be played on that date. Whether that game will be made up or simply cancelled is yet to be determined. If the season were to begin two weeks into the schedule, the Tigers would be slated to host the Angels on Friday, April 10. But nothing has been determined. Major League Baseball will continue to evaluate events leading up to the start of the season.
What about tickets to other games?
Check Tigers.com for further information on games that are either rescheduled for later in the season or eventually cancelled. The Tigers had five other home games scheduled over the first two weeks, including a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals on April 1 and a four-game series against the Indians April 2-5.
How might this affect the Tigers once play resumes?
That depends a lot on when play resumes. Matthew Boyd, who has a detailed between-start routine, doesn’t believe a two-week delay would impact his preparation for the season. Having the team stay around Lakeland helps, since they can set up simulated games or other situational workouts.
“OK, we have an extra two weeks,” Boyd said. “I don’t know, maybe I push it a little more in the weight room, or something like that. I’m sure guys will adjust their routines accordingly, and we’ll just go from there in that sense. The offseason got two weeks longer. You get two more weeks to get stronger and push yourself.”
Injury-wise, center fielder JaCoby Jones will have more time to recover from his right calf injury. He returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing the past few weeks.
Will the MLB Draft, or the Tigers’ top overall pick, be affected?
No announcement was made regarding this year’s MLB Draft, but several collegiate baseball programs and conferences have announced alterations or cancellations to their schedule. The NCAA announced the postponement of all spring sports championships, which includes the College World Series. But Avila believes they have enough information to prepare for the Draft, whenever it takes place.
“We have a good history from last year to the present day, as far as seeing players,” Avila said. “I know we already have a full list of all the guys that are pertinent to the Draft for us. Obviously, you would like to see them play more, but I would say right now, if the Draft were tomorrow, we’d be prepared.”
What are they saying?
“We have to do what’s best. You don’t want to spread anything. Not that anyone has it, but you want to try to do what’s best for the general population and try to slow the spread of this thing. Everybody’s doing what they think is best.” -- Boyd
“There’s not a template. We’re ad-libbing as we speak, and we’re trying to get a calmness with the players and give them a little leadership as far as what we’re going to try to do here in the early stages. As we get information, we’re going to throw it out there to them. But I don’t think anybody’s done anything like this, so we’re just doing the best we can with the information we get.” -- manager Ron Gardenhire