In theory, a reboot of the baseball season could be just over three weeks away, with MLB and the MLB Players Association attempting to negotiate the conditions of a return to workouts by mid June and games by the start of July. If a second spring training does take place, it remains to be seen where the Red Sox would conduct it.
According to major league sources, the Sox are debating three options: having players convene in Boston at Fenway Park, bringing them to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., or — less likely — a hybrid approach that would use both facilities.
MLB is giving teams the option of holding spring training v2.0 in their home parks or their spring training facilities.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has expressed a willingness for baseball to return to Fenway Park — in the absence of fans — this summer. Walsh and Red Sox CEO/president Sam Kennedy also have had conversations about the possibility of the Sox training at Fenway, according to a source familiar with the talks. So long as training activities followed appropriate health and safety protocols, Walsh has expressed a willingness to let the team use its home ballpark in June.
Even so, the comparatively small locker room space at Fenway — at a time when the league is trying to establish social distancing protocols — could present a challenge, albeit one with which the Red Sox would have to contend anyway if a regular season is played there.
JetBlue Park is a somewhat more obvious choice given that it features not only a clubhouse accustomed to accommodating a larger number of players but also a minor league clubhouse that had been accommodating roughly 180 players before the facility was shut down in March.
The state of Florida has made clear its willingness to let players back to their facilities. While some teams have already reopened their spring facilities for player workouts, the Red Sox have limited access at JetBlue Park to rehabbing players (notably outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitcher Chris Sale).
A hybrid approach, in theory, would allow for even greater social distancing, though it would create considerable challenges by dividing players as well as front office and coaching staffs. For that reason, one major league source deemed such a plan for the Red Sox “unlikely.”
Massachusetts quarantine recommendations and hotel restrictions could present a challenge for using Fenway. In Phase 1 of the state’s reopening, which will last at least until June 8, travelers to Massachusetts are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry, and lodging is restricted to essential workers.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Mets and Yankees both have decided to use their spring training facilities in Florida to prepare (should players and owners agree on the terms to permit a 2020 campaign), a decision driven in part by the fact that COVID-19 infection rates are lower per capita in Florida than New York.
Michael Silverman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.