MLB reveals 60-game schedule, Brewers open at Cubs

Major League Baseball released the pandemic-shortened 60-game schedule Monday and the Milwaukee Brewers will face one of their division rivals to open the year.

The Chicago Cubs will host manager Craig Counsell’s club the night of July 24 at Wrigley Field. First pitch for the game is set for 6:10 p.m. and it will be broadcast on ESPN. It’s a three-game series and the first of 10 games total between the clubs, including seven that will be played in Chicago.

Milwaukee follows that opening weekend with another three-game set in Pittsburgh before facing St. Louis the weekend of July 31 at Miller Park. It will serve as the home opener, though there won’t be any fans in the stands.

Thirteen of the Brewers 30 away games are placed at the beginning and end of the season, including their final seven games split between Cincinnati and St. Louis. However, they’ll be at home for 18 of their 30 games in the month of August, including a homestand to end it that will see them face the Reds, Pirates and Detroit.

Overall, the schedule will have Milwaukee playing NL Central teams a total of 40 times and AL Central teams a total of 20 times. The latter includes six games against Minnesota, four against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit, and three against Kansas City and Cleveland.

You can find the full schedule here

Two Brewers test positive for COVID-19

Two Milwaukee Brewers are self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Manager Craig Counsell told reporters Monday morning that infielder Luis Urias and pitcher Angel Perdomo tested positive for the virus prior to MLB’s intake testing last Wednesday. They were not on the field for the first full team workout on Saturday, and Counsell guessed it could be a minimum of 10 days before they are cleared to return. He added that both players were asymptomatic.

The Brewers acquired Urias in a trade with San Diego last November, while Perdomo has been with the organization since 2019, spending a majority of last season in Triple-A.

MLB was encouraged by the numbers from the initial intake testing. Of the more than 3,100 tests administered to players and staff, only 38 came back positive — 31 players and seven staff members. But players are being tested every other day and those numbers will likely increase as coronavirus cases and the percentage of positive tests skyrocket in some areas of the country.

The league is planning on getting its 60-game season started in about two weeks and is expected to release the schedule Monday night.

AP: Brewers’ Ryan Braun says he’s now more likely to play beyond 2020

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers veteran Ryan Braun said he’s more likely to continue playing beyond 2020 because of the unusual circumstances of this pandemic-shortened season.

Braun said in January that he was considering retiring after the season. He was more bullish on his baseball future Saturday as the Brewers held the first full-squad workout of their summer camp ahead of the 60-game season that starts later this month.

“I feel like it’s more likely that I play another year than I anticipated a few months back,” Braun said.

Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, is entering the final season of a five-year, $105 million contract and will turn 37 in November.

Those circumstances help explain why Braun was uncertain in January about whether he would play in 2021.

“I don’t take for granted this could be my last year playing baseball,” Braun said at the time. “Obviously, there’s a sense of urgency every year, but for me, knowing that this could be my last chance ever, it’s something that adds to that sense of urgency.”

Braun knows he’ll be fresher at the end of this season than he would be after a 162-game schedule. The NL also is adopting the designated hitter this season, a move that could help Braun lengthen his career.

“Obviously at this age and where I’m at in my career, it’s very appealing to me to have the option to DH for a decent percentage of my at-bats,” Braun said.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell has said Braun will spend some time at DH but would also play right field and first base.

“We’ll have a number of people in that role,” Counsell said. “There will not be a starting DH. For our team, you’ll see Ryan there. I probably liked it for Christian Yelich just as much when I saw the rule, the ability to keep him in the lineup for more games, especially at the start here when we’re going to just have to be really careful with soft-tissue injuries for guys. Those are the two names that come to mind right off the bat.”

Prior positive COVID-19 tests leave Brewers not ‘at full strength’ in first workout

The Milwaukee Brewers are going through their first workouts of Summer Camp on Saturday, though not every player is on the field.

Manager Craig Counsell told reporters that COVID-19 impacted the organization prior to the team reconvening at Miller Park on Wednesday.

“We will not have all 45 (players) working out today,” Counsell said. “I’ll say it this way: We have had COVID positives in recent weeks with players in the organization, but we did not have any at intake. But we will not be at full strength today.”

MLB is not announcing which players test positive but it did put out the testing numbers on Friday. According to a release, 19 organizations had at least one player or staff member test positive, but that was a total of 38 (31 players, seven staff members) out of more than 3,100 tests. The positive test rate was 1.2-percent.

“I think league-wide for sure it is,” Counsell said when asked whether it was encouraging to see the low positive rate. “We were all waiting to see and wondering what that would look like. You feel like you get a chance for all of us to start clean. Now we take the next step.”

AP: Teams not able to disclose who goes on IL due to virus

(AP) Trying to find out the status of a baseball player coming back from an ankle injury definitely will be easier than learning whether someone tested positive for the coronavirus.

Major League Baseball said Tuesday that a team will not specifically announce a COVID-19 injured list placement for a player who is removed from the club after testing positive, just an IL trip.

MLB’s operations manual says a positive test, exhibiting symptoms that require isolation for additional assessment or exposure to someone who has had the virus are cause for placement on the new COVID-19 IL.

“It would be a speculating circumstance,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told media during a conference call.

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement states that for any medical condition not related to employment “a club may disclose only the fact that a medical condition is preventing the player from rendering services to the club and the anticipated length of the player’s absence from the club.”

Cashman noted the situation continues to evolve as MLB and the players’ union continue discussions. Testing of players and staff will begin Wednesday as they report to their teams to resume workouts. They will be tested once every two days.

Last week, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies became the first MLB player known to have tested positive. According to reports, the All-Star outfielder was one of three Colorado players to have a positive test.

Numerous other teams have said they have players who have tested positive for the virus without identifying any of them. The Philadelphia Phillies announced seven, while the Detroit Tigers said one player who was living in Florida but not working out at the team’s spring training facilities in Lakeland also tested positive.

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said a few players have tested positive but declined to specify how many. Several Toronto Blue Jays players and staff members also have tested positive.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said remaining educated about best practices is going to be crucial for everyone.

“Leadership really is going to be the difference-maker for the teams that are able to best handle this and best cope with the challenges that we face,” he said. “And that really is the accountability that needs to be shared by all of us — not just baseball, but our whole society.”

Baltimore general manager Mike Elias said the Orioles have had no reported cases and that no one on the team has decided against playing in the shortened season.

He’s hoping for a smooth start to the camp that’s scheduled to begin Friday at Camden Yards.

“We recognize that this will be fluid and everyone is having to make personal decisions and circumstances might not be fully understood until the season starts, but so far we are expecting full participation,” Elias said. “You see in the news around the league that’s not the case everywhere and I wouldn’t be shocked if that ends up happening, but that’s going to be part of this.”

“We’re not pressuring anyone or shaming anyone that feels they shouldn’t be here. We’re making that known, and I think it’s well-received,” Elias added. “Our players have been itching to play for a while. I think the whole delay was frustrating for them, for us, and everyone just wants to go play.”

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is hoping the return of baseball can provide some solace, much like the Yankees did when they returned after 9-11.

“We were thinking as players, ‘Do we even play? What does it mean? We’re playing a game.’ Talking to family members who had lost family members and them thanking us — ‘What are you thanking us for?’ They said, ‘We’re thanking you because you’re giving us something to cheer for. There haven’t been too many happy days around here,’” Jeter said. “Baseball played a big role, at least in New York, in the healing process. It’s not saying you’re ever going to forget what happened. But at least for three hours a day we have the opportunity to give them something to cheer for. We hope that’s the case here when we get going in a couple of weeks.”

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AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum, Mike Fitzpatrick and Ben Walker, and AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg and Steven Wine contributed to this report.

Brewers’ Ryan Braun ‘isn’t quite sure’ that games will be played this season

The Milwaukee Brewers are scheduled to report to Spring Training 2.0 on Wednesday, hold their first full team workout at Miller Park on Saturday and play their first game July 23 or 24. But will that game actually take place? At least one member of the team has doubts it will.

“There’s still a part of me that isn’t quite sure we’ll actually play games,” outfielder Ryan Braun told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m optimistic that we will play games, but obviously if we look at what’s happening in the country, the COVID numbers are not good. There are a significant number of athletes obviously that have tested positive, which is indicative of the overall numbers in the country right now. I’m optimistic and I’m hopeful that when we get back we eventually make it to a season.

“I think for all of us as baseball players it’s been a very trying process. It’s been an exhaustive and frustrating process at times but we’ll be incredibly grateful and thankful for any semblance of a season.”

As of Tuesday morning, more than 2.6 million people had tested positive for the virus in the country and nearly 129,000 had died. The virus figures to be the biggest challenge to MLB’s pandemic-shortened 60-game season, though the league has put together a manual that is more than 100 pages in length in how they plan to overcome it.

“We’re going to follow everything that’s in there,” Brewers GM David Stearns said last Friday. “We’re going to do our best to educate our players as much as possible on how they can remain healthy, and how we can put ourselves in the best position to succeed in this environment and keep everyone safe. We also know there will likely going to be positive throughout the industry over the course of the season, and we’re going to have to adjust to that.”

Brewers reveal Spring Training 2.0 roster

We knew when the Milwaukee Brewers would be reporting for Spring Training 2.0. Now we know which players will be coming to Miller Park on Wednesday.

The club announced the players that will make up its initial camp roster late Monday morning.

Teams are allowed to have up to 60 players at their big league site, but GM David Stearns said Friday that they were likely to only bring the 45 that have a chance to make the opening day roster. The other 15, along with players that don’t make it on the roster to start the season, will eventually make their way to the Brewers’ Class A affiliate’s facility in Appleton.

Milwaukee players are slated to go through coronavirus testing and physicals when they arrive on Wednesday. The first full team workout is scheduled for Saturday.

Oddsmakers not high on Brewers chances in 2020

Oddsmakers aren’t expecting Milwaukee to win the NL Central in a pandemic-shortened MLB season.

In its latest figures, Caesars Sportsbook lists the Brewers at +450 to take the division, leaving them behind Chicago (+210), Cincinnati (+210) and St. Louis (+240). Only the Pirates (40-1), have longer odds to win it.

Milwaukee is listed at 18-1 to win the NL pennant. Oddsmakers have nine teams with better odds than that, including the favorite Los Angeles Dodgers at +150.

The Brewers over/under win total for the 60-game season is 30.5 and 40-1 to win their first World Series title.

MLB teams will begin reporting to Spring Training 2.0 on Wednesday. The Brewers plan to hold their first full team workout on Saturday and their first game will come July 23 or 24.

‘Small number’ of individuals in Brewers organization test positive for coronavirus

Cases of the coronavirus are spiking in many areas of the country and the Milwaukee Brewers have not been immune to that.

General manager David Stearns told reporters Friday morning that a “small number” of individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. He did not detail whether they were players or other staff members, but he said all were asymptomatic and feeling good.

The virus figures to be the biggest challenge MLB faces as it tries to get its season going. When players report to Miller Park for Spring Training 2.0 next Wednesday in Milwaukee, they will be tested for the virus. It’s one part of a manual put together by the league, and signed off by the players, that is more than 100 pages in length and details all the protocols in dealing with a virus that brought the sports world to a halt in March.

“We’re going to follow everything that’s in there,” Stearns said. “We’re going to do our best to educate our players as much as possible on how they can remain healthy, and how we can put ourselves in the best position to succeed in this environment and keep everyone safe. We also know there are likely going to be positives throughout the industry over the course of the season, and we’re going to have to adjust to that.”

Baseball plans to start its season July 23 or 24. There will be 60 games and the Brewers will only face teams from the NL Central and AL Central in an effort to cut down on travel.

“The new schedule will be an adjustment. The travel will be an adjustment,” Stearns said. “All of this is going to be new and different, but I think we all recognize within the industry that the biggest thing we have to focus on, and the biggest challenge for us, is keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

AP: MLB sets 60-game schedule, will start July 23 or 24

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.

The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the virus — at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And a stark realization remained, that if health situations deteriorate, all games could still be wiped out.

“What happens when we all get it?” Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted Monday.

One day after the players’ association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.

In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games between National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.

Playoff teams remain at 10 for now — there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.

Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1. It remains to be seen which players will report back to work — high-risk individuals are allowed to opt out and still receive salary and service time, but others who sit out get neither money nor the service credit needed for eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.

Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and 20 total games against the five clubs in the corresponding regional division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.

This will be MLB’s shortest season since 1878, a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of stats and records.

No matter what, the season will be among the most unusual ever for a sport that takes pride in the race for titles being a marathon and not a sprint: Washington started 19-31 and 27-33 last year but finished 93-69 to earn a wild card and won a seven-game World Series for its first title.

“There’s a lot more pressure because in a 60-game schedule, I think that you have 25% more teams that can compete, that had no idea they were going to compete for 162 games,” said Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, now a broadcaster.

The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and the deadline to be in an organization for postseason eligibility is Sept. 15. Teams can resume making trades Friday, when rosters will no longer be frozen.

Active rosters will be 30 players during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that. They will not expand to 28 on Sept. 1, as originally intended this year.

With no minor leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad. Up to three players from the taxi squad can travel with a team to a game, and one of the three must be a catcher.

MLB is keeping the planned innovation that pitchers must face three batters or finish a half inning — players refused to agree a year ago but also waived their right to block.

The injured list minimum for pitchers will remain 10 days rather than revert to 15, as initially intended.

Public opinion shredded both sides as they locked in a ferocious financial battle during a pandemic that has led to more than 120,000 deaths and 2.3 million infections in the U.S. and led to a 14.7% unemployment rate, the highest since the Great Depression.

MLB hoped to be the first U.S. major league to return, at first with an 82-game schedule starting around the Fourth of July, but sniping broke out between management and players who distrust teams’ claims of economic losses following years of franchise appreciation. MLB claimed that without gate-related revenue it would lose $640,000 for each additional regular-season game, a figure the union disputed.

MLB became exasperated with the union’s leadership team, headed by former All-Star first baseman Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, a litigator hired in August 2018. Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem were infuriated when Clark said he considered the result of a one-on-one meeting with Manfred last week a proposal rather than what MLB termed a framework for a deal.

Rather than play 162 games over 186 days, the season will be 60 games over 66 or 67 days, depending on whether there is a nationally televised Thursday night opener. It is scheduled to end Sept. 27, which leaves little margin to make up September rainouts. MLB insisted it needed to complete the World Series in October, avoiding any second wave of the virus.

Players are being given staggered reporting times over several days for intake screening. The time will be used for coronavirus testing ahead of the resumption of workouts, which were stopped March 12 due to the pandemic.

Because of an uptick in infections in Florida and Arizona’s summer heat, 28 teams currently are leaning toward training in their regular-season ballparks. Detroit remained partial to Lakeland, Florida, and Toronto was hoping to gain government permission to work out at Rogers Centre.

Under terms of the deal the sides reached on March 26, which was to have been opening day, players would receive prorated portions of their salaries if the 60-game schedule is not cut short by the virus. Salaries originally totaled $4 billion, and the prorated portion of about 37% reduces pay to $1.48 billion.

Salaries were to have ranged from $563,500 at the minimum to $36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at the top, but the spread would now be from $208,704 to $13,333,333.

MLB initially had sought last month in its initial economic plan to reduce pay to about $1 billion, and players vowed not to give up full prorated pay and proposed a 114-game schedule that amounted to $2.8 billion.

The relationship deteriorated back to the level of the acrimonious labor disputes that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, and the union has threatened a grievance claiming MLB didn’t fulfill the provision in the March deal requiring the longest season economically feasible, conditioned by several other provisions. MLB would claim the union bargained in bad faith, and the case would be argued before arbitrator Mark Irvings.

That would be a prelude to the expiration of the current labor contract on Dec. 1, 2021, which likely will be followed by a lockout.