On the eve of what was supposed to be Opening Day, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred sounded hopeful that games will be played sooner rather than later.
Manfred was unable to commit to a date for the season's debut but said the "optimistic outlook" is to kick things off in May.
"We'll have to make a determination, depending what the precise date is, as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is gonna be done in the clubs' home cities or back in Florida and Arizona," Manfred said during an interview Wednesday night with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
However, the commissioner admitted that "we're probably not gonna be able to" play a full 162-game schedule in 2020.
"Again, I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible, and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal," he said.
MLB canceled spring training two weeks ago as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world. It also postponed Opening Day indefinitely.
The stoppage has led to radical scheduling ideas. Agent Scott Boras said the season should extend into winter and a neutral-site World Series should be played on Christmas Day. Players are also reportedly open to making up games by playing doubleheaders, with Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black offering up the idea of seven-inning doubleheaders.
"Nothing's off the table for us right now," Manfred said. "I think we are open, and we've had some really positive conversations with our players' association about relaxing some of the rules that govern our schedule. They're very focused on returning to play and playing as many games as possible. And when you have that kind of positive dialogue, it creates an opportunity to do things that are a little different. You're not committed to them over the long term, because this year is a unique circumstance.
"But there's a lot of ideas out there, and we really are open to all of them."
The stoppage has impacted many off-field baseball issues, too, including whether the 2020 MLB Draft and international signing period can be completed in June and July, respectively. MLB and the players' association are also engaged in negotiations over service-time concerns and how much players will be paid in the event of a shortened season.