Nearly two months into MLB lockout, when is it time to worry about spring training and Opening Day?

The MLB lockout is about to enter its third month.

When it began back on Dec. 2, MLB and the MLBPA had 119 days before the start of a new season to figure things out. As the clock ticks down to Opening Day — now just 59 days away — without a new collective bargaining agreement in place, the two sides have put everything in jeopardy.

Normally, baseball is in motion as the calendar flips from January to February. Teams are packing trucks to deliver equipment to spring camps while players and coaches are beginning their journeys to Arizona and Florida. Visas are being secured for foreign players and housing arrangements for the next couple of months are being finalized. Pitchers are ramping up their throwing programs while hitters are doing the same in the weight room.

But this year, all of it is on hold.

“I had a couple setbacks to getting ready for the season, so it’s just tough gauging whether I need to push it and get ready or take my time,” free-agent reliever Steve Cishek said in a phone conversation. “The unknown, like the COVID season, is the hard part.”

The MLBPA is prepared for an extended lockout, with $5,000 checks going out to players this week for the month of February. But the players themselves still have to prep for the season even with the start date of spring training, and possibly Opening Day, increasingly uncertain.

“It’s not ideal,” one player opined. “But there are more important things right now. We just have to do the best we can to be ready.”

Here is what the current negotiations stalemate means for the biggest upcoming dates on the baseball calendar — and when it is officially time to worry we could lose them if a deal is not yet in place.

 

Feb. 15 (44 days from Opening Day): Pitchers and catchers report

When to worry: Feb. 8

If the lockout ends in the next seven days, players under contract should have enough time to get to camp as scheduled, according to one team executive, while a free-agent frenzy would take place for the remaining unsigned players.

Would everyone arrive on time? Probably not, especially those coming from outside the country. But camps could open, pitchers could start throwing and spring routines could commence.

And while that’s going on, front offices and agents would pick up where the offseason halted back in December.

Author: Lucy Green