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White Sox, Rangers, Marlins could play in front of fans this season

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For the most part, MLB games won’t be played in front of fans during the 2020 season due the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league is leaving it up to individual teams to decide on that, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Some states have relaxed their rules to combat the virus, reopening businesses such as bars and hair salons. As such, some — if not all — MLB teams will try to play at least some games in front of fans.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers are one of the teams considering playing in front of fans. Nothing is official yet, but if they do make it happen, season ticket holders would get first priority and the stadium could be filled to 50% capacity. GM Jon Daniels said that he’s not concerned about players and staff as fans would be far enough away from the field. Daniels is, however, worried about fans staying safe.

Danny Parkins of 670 The Score adds that the White Sox are planning to play in front of fans and the Cubs could possibly do the same. Guaranteed Rate Field seats 40,615 but Parkins notes that the current thought is to only fill the stadium to 20% capacity, or just north of 8,100 fans.

Andy Slater of Fox Sports 640 South Florida reports that Carlos A. Giménez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County, is considering allowing fans to attend games at Marlins Park starting next month. However, the Marlins must submit a plan to the county illustrating how fans would be able to socially distance.

Expect more teams to join the White Sox, Rangers, Marlins, and Cubs in the pursuit of opening their gates to fans for the 2020 season. The owners contended throughout negotiations with the MLB Players Association that they would suffer great losses for games played without fans, so they will try to recoup as much money as possible if they’re allowed to sell tickets.

As for the actual implementation, fans would almost certainly be required to wear masks and subject themselves to temperature checks before being allowed entry. There would likely be six-foot distance markers throughout the walkways not unlike what you see in many stores right now. Seating would likely be staggered. One wonders if teams might have to put up netting all around the stadium to discourage fans from chasing after foul balls and thus not being socially distant. Teams might also have to keep their concession and merchandise stands, and clubhouse stores closed. Teams are still in the early stages of figuring this out, so more concrete details should come out later.

The 2020 season is expected to begin on July 23 or 24. Players will report to “spring” training next week (July 1) in their home cities.

Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season

Kopech has opted out
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Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.

The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”

Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.

Now, however, Kopech has opted out.