Though it comes as no surprise given the lack of progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball has officially postponed spring training games through March 5. The Cubs were originally scheduled to open their exhibition slate on February 26 against the Dodgers, so this means they’ll lose at least nine games (one split-squad date).
The postponement is in keeping with the league’s view that February 28 is the deadline to settle without losing any regular season games. Getting something done prior to the end of the month would allow at least four days for players to get to camp before games get started, which is a pretty tight turnaround even for athletes who’ve kept themselves in peak physical condition all winter.
More important than the start of spring training is having three-plus weeks to prepare for the grind of a 162-game schedule. The truncated 2020 season showed how difficult it was to ramp up in short order, though a lot of that was also due to the start-stop-start nature of the campaign. Then you add in the dark cloud of the pandemic, lack of fans, and general weirdness of a 50-game season.
It’s hard to feel optimistic about the process at this point, but the two sides are expected to meet regularly next week in the hope that something can be hammered out soon.