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Arizona option getting noticed

The Associated Press

Boston’s Chris Sale, out for the season following Tommy John surgery, thought about the prospect of his teammates sequestered in the Phoenix area for an extended period if Major League Baseball and its players adopt an all-Arizona start to the season.

“I don’t know if I could look at my kids just through a screen for four or five months. Same thing goes with my wife,” the pitcher said Tuesday. “That’s a long time. But people have done it in harsh scenarios, I guess.”

Putting 30 teams in the Phoenix area and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday during a call among five top officials from MLB and the players’ association that was led by Commissioner Rob Manfred, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press.

With its season delayed due to the new coronavirus, both sides are searching for ways to get under way. Kansas City manager Mike Matheny would feel privileged to help the country return to a semblance of normalcy and provide an escape for fans.

“Just jump in and trust that we may not know when we’ll reconnect with our families, and trust that when health officials decide it’s OK we’ll be able to do that,” Matheny said. “But in the meantime, do something that would really help the healing process.”

Baseball officials intend to study which options may be viable economically and would gain necessary approvals. The league said it has not yet sought approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or from the players’ association.

“While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement.

Arizona has 10 spring training ballparks plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field all within about 50 miles. Phoenix Municipal Stadium — Oakland’s old spring training base and now Arizona State’s stadium — is an option along with Grand Canyon’s Brazell Field. Chase Field could host several games each day following its switch to an artificial surface.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says player and public health is her top priority.

“There is not a person on the planet who doesn’t want to get back to a time and place marked by familiarity, and there is nothing more familiar than sports, especially the great American pastime of baseball,” she said in a statement.

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