Atlanta Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk, center, and members of the Atlanta Braves baseball team honor baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, third from right, front, with a street named after him outside CoolToday Park, the spring training baseball facility of the Braves, in North Port, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020
Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Braves players leaving Florida as MLB suspends spring operations

MLB announced it suspended all spring training operations, effective Friday evening. The decree comes a day after MLB canceled its exhibition season and announced the regular season would be delayed by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Players were given three options: Go home to his regular-season city, go to an offseason home or stay in the spring-training cities. Multiple Braves players have already departed North Port, Florida.

» More AJC coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

MLB’s announcement came hours after Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters on a conference call. He confirmed the team intended to stay in Florida and work out. The Braves held a light workout Friday morning and would have the next two days off as their facilities underwent a “deep cleaning.” They planned to reconvene Monday.

That will no longer be the case. After conversations between MLB and the players’ union, the players were empowered to make the decisions they deem best. Many players had reportedly expressed concern over staying in Florida or Arizona and wanted to be with their families.

“I think everyone understands the circumstances,” Anthopoulos said earlier in the day. “Nobody has ever faced anything like this. Things are fluid and things are changing.”

Given the time it takes players, and specifically pitchers, to ready for the regular season, it’s become increasingly more likely the season is delayed beyond two weeks. MLB’s announcement meant April 9 was the earliest possible start date, but with some athletes now leaving their spring-training sites, that possibility is extremely unlikely.

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