In a meeting with Major League Baseball last week, government health officials reportedly pushed for a one-month delay to the 2021 season with an eye towards getting players vaccinated before the start of the year, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Players Association opted against joining the meeting, instead scheduling a separate discussion with the same health officials at a future time.
Earlier this week, the union rejected the league's proposal for a 154-game season that would start on April 28, a plan that would have featured up to 12 seven-inning doubleheaders for each team, expanding the playoff field from 10 to 14 teams and a universal designated hitter.
Unless COVID-19 dictates otherwise, the season will start on April 1 as scheduled. MLB believes a one-month delay would minimize potential disruptions cause by virus outbreaks among players and team employees.
According to Rosenthal, the government's position that a delay would be prudent is rooted in the expected readiness of a new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration's top-ranking medical adviser, said Wednesday that this latest vaccine could be authorized for emergency use "within a week or so," according to Aristos Georgiou of Newsweek.
The league and union will not discuss the issue of a delayed season going forward, instead working to finalize health and safety protocols for spring training and the regular season. Some team employees throughout the league are reportedly feeling uneasy about traveling to Arizona and Florida for spring training, per Rosenthal, noting particular concern for older coaches, umpires and team staffers who are more vulnerable to the virus.