Cactus League leaders ask MLB to delay spring training

Cactus League leaders ask MLB to delay spring training
Fifteen major league teams comprise the Cactus League.

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona city and tribal leaders that are home to Cactus League facilities have asked Major League Baseball to consider delaying the start of spring training until there is an improvement in the COVID-19 situation in Maricopa County.

Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher pointed out in a letter to MLB that Maricopa County has one of the nation’s highest infection rates of COVID-19. The letter was signed by Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher, Mesa Mayor John Giles, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega, Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching, Surprise Mayor Skip Hall, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Martin Harvier.

In the letter, Binsbacher cites data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which predicts a sharp drop in infections in Arizona by mid-March.

Cactus League games are currently scheduled to start on Feb. 27 with players reporting to their camps in mid-February. The Cactus League is comprised of 15 teams that play games in 10 stadiums around the Phoenix metropolitan area.

After the release of the Cactus League’s letter to MLB, the players’ union released its own statement:

Although we have not received any communication directly, the (MLB Players Association) is aware of a letter that has been distributed today by the Cactus League Association.

The letter states that after meeting with Major League Baseball, the Cactus League Association “believes it is wise” to delay the start of Spring Training in Arizona. The letter correctly notes that MLB does not have the ability to unilaterally make this decision.

While we, of course, share the goals of a safe Spring Training and regular season, MLB has repeatedly assured us that it has instructed its teams to be prepared for an on time start to Spring Training and the Regular Season and we continue to devote all our efforts to making sure that that takes place as safely as possible.

In the event that spring training starts on schedule, the Cactus League told MLB that it has made efforts to meet COVID-19 protocols, including pod seating, social distancing and contactless transactions.

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