The Washington Nationals will begin a delayed defence of their World Series title by hosting the New York Yankees on July 23 as MLB announced the schedule for its abbreviated 60-game 2020 season on Monday. 

The start of the MLB campaign has been on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc in the United States and across the globe.

But the marquee Nationals-Yankees matchup will be the first game of an opening-night doubleheader, with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting rivals the San Francisco Giants in the nightcap.

That game is expected to mark the Dodgers debut of 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts, while Gerrit Cole could make his first start since signing a nine-year, $324million contract with the Yankees in December. 

All other teams will begin their seasons on July 24, highlighted by the Texas Rangers hosting the Colorado Rockies in the first game at their new stadium – Globe Life Field.  

Games will be held without spectators during the shortened regular season, which is slated to end on September 27 and will be followed by a 10-team playoff format. 

Other notable opening series include the Los Angeles Angels, who made an offseason splash by signing former Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, visiting the Oakland Athletics and defending National League East champions the Atlanta Braves traveling to New York to take on division rivals the Mets. 

The schedule also includes a matchup between the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa on August 13, which will be played on the field used in the acclaimed baseball film "Field of Dreams." 

MLB also rescheduled Jackie Robinson Day for August 28. The annual celebration of the Hall of Fame player who broke baseball's colour barrier in 1947 is traditionally held on April 15, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

Additionally, MLB will honour the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues on August 16 and will hold Roberto Clemente Day to commemorate the former Pittsburgh Pirates great on September 9. 

The revised schedule will have teams playing 40 games against division opponents and 20 interleague games against a corresponding geographical division, such as the AL East facing teams from the NL East. 

Major League Baseball (MLB) has explained the delayed results of its league-wide intake testing for coronavirus in response to harsh criticism. 

The league issued a statement on Monday which stated that the Independence Day weekend caused logistical delays and that all results from players' initial tests would be completed by the end of the day.  

It comes as some teams have had to skip team workouts or delay the beginning of their training camps just weeks before the scheduled start of the shortened season.  

"Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend," the statement said.

"Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays.  

"We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence. We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts."

The Oakland Athletics opted to push back their first full-squad training session when testing results were not available on Friday, and the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros cancelled workouts Monday.  

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo blasted the league earlier on Monday for not producing testing results as promised.  

"We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing, it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp," Rizzo said. 

"Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk."

The league admitted fault for the delayed results but indicated they were an anomaly, with 95 percent of intake tests completed. 

"The process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties, which are being addressed with the service providers that are essential to the execution of the protocols," the league's statement explained.

"It is important to be mindful that nearly all of the individuals have been tested as planned. The health and safety of our players and employees will remain our highest priorities."

Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo has tested positive for coronavirus and is isolating at home, the team has confirmed.

Gallo is asymptomatic and reportedly feeling well, but needs two negative tests in a row before he is able to join the team.

The 26-year-old slugger first tested positive for COVID-19 on June 29 from a saliva test. A nasal swab a day later came back negative before another saliva test taken on July 2 came back positive on Sunday. 

Major League Baseball will release the 2020 schedule later on Monday, and Gallo could still be ready for the start of the season. 

Gallo made his first All-Star Game last year and was on pace for a third straight 40-homer season before suffering a season-ending right wrist injury.

He finished 2019 with 22 home runs and a .986 OPS in 70 games. 

The Washington Nationals have cancelled their training for Monday, and general manager Mike Rizzo did not hold back in explaining why, calling out MLB for a delay in receiving coronavirus test results and a lack of preparation. 

"Per MLB's protocol, all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Friday, July 3," Rizzo said on Monday in a statement.

"Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning. 

"We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp. 

"Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk." 

The Nationals' decision to cancel Monday's practice came a day after the Oakland Athletics opted to push back their first full-squad workout because they had not received test results for their position players. 

Rizzo's comments also come a day after Washington's left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle went on a lengthy rant over the United States' response to the pandemic. 

The Nationals, who had returned to Nationals Park on Friday for their first workout of Spring Training 2.0, are set to open the season in just over two weeks on July 23, with the full schedule set to be released Monday.

Washington Nationals left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle has previously called out MLB for its coronavirus precautions and on Sunday he went on a lengthy rant over the United States' response to the pandemic.

The USA has been hit hard by COVID-19, with nearly three million confirmed cases and a death toll exceeding 132,000.

"We're trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that's killed 130,000 people [in the USA]. We're way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down," Doolittle said. "Look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven't done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back.

"Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we're trying to just bring it back, even though we've taken none of the steps to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say. We did flatten the curve a little bit, but we didn't use that time to do anything productive. We just opened back up for Memorial Day. We decided we're done with it.

"If there aren't sports, it's going to be because people are not wearing masks, because the response to this has been so politicized. We need help from the general public.

"If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, social distance, keep washing your hands. We can't just have virus fatigue and keep thinking, 'Well, it's been four months, we're over it, this has been enough time, right? We've waited long enough, shouldn't sports come back now?' No, there are things we have to do in order to bring this stuff back. And now you want to bring fans back? Is that safe? I don't know. I'm not a public health expert, but we should probably defer to them on some of these issues.

"So, I don't know if it's safe or not. I really don't know. But that doesn't seem like something that … I don't know if that feels like a good idea or not. I don't know."

Doolittle also said he is still debating about playing this season amid health and safety concerns. Earlier on Sunday, Atlanta Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez announced he is going to sit out this season after Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price decided he would sit out on Saturday. 

Another point of frustration for the 33-year-old Doolittle is that he still has not received his COVID-19 results from Friday even though MLB claimed testing would have a 24-hour turnaround time. He also said National players have not been given respirator masks they were told they would receive. 

In mid-May, Doolittle posted a long Twitter thread presenting a number of questions about health protections for players, families, staff and stadium workers. He also provided links to articles that further examined the topics he was addressing. 

The eight-year major-league veteran has appeared in 390 games for the Nationals and Oakland Athletics, striking out 457 batters over 388 innings. He was instrumental to the Nationals' World Series championship run last season, posting a 1.74 ERA over nine playoff appearances.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is in favour of changing the team's nickname.

Francona expressed his view at the end of a week in which the MLB side announced they would consider changing their nickname, which is considered to be racially insensitive. 

The franchise dropped their Chief Wahoo logo from their game jerseys and caps two years ago because it was deemed offensive.  

"I think it's time to move forward and not just say 'it's a very difficult subject'," said Francona.

"I've been thinking about it and been thinking about it before we put out that statement.

"I know in the past, when I've been asked about [it], whether it's our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we're never trying to be disrespectful.

"I still feel that way but I don't think that's a good enough answer today.” 

The 61-year-old Francona also said it is important for people his age to adapt and be open-minded during these changing times. 

"Even at my age, you don't want to be too old to learn or to realise that, maybe I've been ignorant of some things, and to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better," he said.

"I'm glad that we're going to be open to listening, because I think that's probably the most important thing right now, is being willing to listen, not necessarily just talk." 

Francona has led the Indians to four playoff appearances – including the 2016 World Series – in his first seven seasons in Cleveland after guiding the Boston Red Sox to a pair of World Series titles. 

Cleveland's major-league team has been known as the Indians since 1915 after previously being called the Blues, the Broncos and the Naps. 

Atlanta Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez has become the latest player to opt out of the 2020 season amid coronavirus concerns.

The former Cy Young Award winner participated in team workouts on Friday and Saturday at the Braves' Truist Park before deciding on Sunday not to play. 

"Everybody told him it would be (different), but until you live it, I don't think you know it," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. 

"As tests come in and outbreaks and things like that, I think it's just human nature to process these things as you have family members involved and children and things like that. 

"Things like that aren't a reality until we get here and live it."

Hernandez's decision comes a day after four Braves tested positive for coronavirus – including four-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman and 2019 All-Star reliever Will Smith – and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price decided not to play this year because of COVID-19. 

Also on Sunday, both the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals announced that two players tested positive for the virus.

The 34-year-old Hernandez was attempting to revive his career with the Braves after signing a one-year minor league contract with the club in January, his last few seasons with the Seattle Mariners blighted by injuries.  

A six-time All-Star and the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, Hernandez endured the worst season of his 15-year career in 2019, going 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts and ultimately lost a spot in the rotation. 

He has gone 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts in his career, but has gone just 15-27 with a 5.42 ERA in his last three seasons while making four trips to the injured list. He had just three stints on the injured list in the first 12 seasons of his career. 

Hernandez, however, was looking like he might earn a spot in Atlanta's starting rotation during spring training, yielding three runs over 13 2/3 innings before MLB halted play. 

New York Yankees All-Star infielder DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Luis Cessa tested positive for coronavirus, manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday. 

LeMahieu and Cessa contracted COVID-19 before arriving in New York for preseason camp, with the MLB campaign scheduled to begin on July 23.

Boone said LeMahieu was asymptomatic and Cessa was experiencing mild symptoms. Both players gave the team permission to release their results. 

LeMahieu and Cessa are under quarantine for a two-week period and will have to exhibit no symptoms and test negative twice for the virus before being cleared to play as teams prepare for a 60-game regular season.

Yankees star LeMahieu finished fourth in the American League MVP voting last season after hitting .327 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Yankees to the AL East title.

Cessa went 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA and one save in 43 appearances in 2019.  

Meanwhile, the Yankees announced pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has been released from hospital after he was struck on the head with a line drive during Saturday's batting practice.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price will not play this season because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. 

The start of the 2020 MLB campaign was scheduled to get underway in March before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, a 60-game regular season is set to begin on July 23 but Price – who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox along with 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts in February for Alex Verdugo and prospects – will not be involved.

"After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family's health for me not to play this season," Price announced via social media on Saturday.

"I will miss my team-mates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I'm sorry I won't be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year.

"Stay safe, be well, and be kind. And go Dodgers!"

The announcement by the five-time All-Star comes a day after Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout said he was not "comfortable" with the current situation and is still unsure whether he will play due to his pregnant wife.  

San Francisco Giants veteran catcher Buster Posey said he may choose not to play in 2020 on Saturday.

Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake and Washington Nationals team-mates Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman have already said they will not play this season. 

Price was set to earn $32million this season, with the Red Sox paying $16m of that, before the coronavirus crisis.

The 2012 AL Cy Young award winner went 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA for Boston last season and helped the Red Sox defeat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. 

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has suggested he may choose not to play baseball in 2020.

Teams were allowed to begin team training in their home ballparks on Wednesday in preparation for a 60-game regular season scheduled to begin July 23.

However, Posey, a 33-year-old franchise cornerstone, addressed the uncertainty of a coronavirus-shortened MLB regular season.

"There's still some reservation on my end. I think I want to see kind of how things progress here over the next couple of weeks," Posey told reporters.

Posey’s comments come just hours after the Atlanta Braves announced that star first baseman Freddie Freeman and three of his team-mates have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Major League Baseball released the results of its first round of league-wide COVID-19 testing on Friday, announcing that 31 players and seven staff members have the virus.

"It would be a little bit maybe naive or silly not to gauge what's going on around you – not only around you here but paying attention to what's happening in the country, in different parts of the country," Posey said.

"Obviously unprecedented times right now so most definitely I've thought about it and talked about it with my wife quite a bit."

Posey missed the Giants' first day of training on Friday due to personal reasons before arriving on Saturday.

The six-time All-Star has spent all 11 of his major league seasons in San Francisco, batting .302 with 140 home runs and 673 RBI.

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and three of his teammates have tested positive for coronavirus.  

Freeman – along with relief pitchers Will Smith and Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma – were among the 31 MLB players to test positive for COVID-19 in the league's first round of testing as teams train for the 2020 season.  

The team announced the positive tests with the players' permission in manager Brian Snitker’s press conference on Saturday.  

Snitker said that Smith and Toussaint are asymptomatic and are eager to return to training, but Freeman and Kozma are struggling with symptoms, including a fever for Freeman.  

"He's still not feeling great," Snitker said of his four-time All-Star. "It will be a while before we can get him back."

Players or staff who have coronavirus are required by league rules to produce two positive tests at least 24 hours apart before they are allowed to rejoin their team.  

Snitker explained the club has addressed their players and staff about government-recommended health protocols but noted some habits are difficult to break.  

"Yesterday there's times at the batting cages where guys come out and congregate," he said. "A lot of these things, guys don't even know they're doing them, so it's going to take a while for us to [adjust]."

Freeman is entering his 11th season with the Braves, winning a Silver Slugger award last season after claiming a Gold Glove in 2018. The 30-year-old batted .295 last season with career highs of 38 home runs and 121 RBI.  

Smith, who turns 31 next week, signed a three-year contract worth $39 million to join the Braves this offseason. The left-handed reliever previously spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants and has a career 2.95 ERA when coming out of the bullpen.  

Toussaint made 24 pitching appearances for Atlanta last season while Kozma is a bench infielder on his fifth major league team.  

All four players gave the team permission to release their names, a decision that Snitker applauded and hoped would set an example for other MLB players.  

"We were talking to them because they have to sign off on us bringing their names out," Snitker said. "I think it's good for the industry and society to know that this is a real deal. This virus is real; it's nothing to mess with."

The Cleveland Indians are the latest professional sports team to announce they will consider changing their nickname amid growing pressure to correct racial wrongdoings.

The news comes on the same day that the NFL's Washington Redskins said they would "undergo a thorough review" of their nickname, which has been deemed offensive by Native American groups for decades.

"We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality," the Indians said in a statement.

"Our organisation fully recognises our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.

"We have had ongoing discussions organisationally on these issues. The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organisation on issues of social justice.

"With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name."

Cleveland's major-league team was originally known as the Blues before switching to the Broncos and then the Naps. The Indians name started in the 1915 season.

The franchise dropped their Chief Wahoo logo from their game jerseys and caps two years ago because it was deemed too racist and offensive.

With the start of the 2020 season just three weeks away, Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is still unsure whether he will be in the lineup for the opener.

Trout's wife, Jessica, is expecting the couple's first child in August and the three-time American League (AL) MVP still has concerns about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect his ability to attend the birth.

As of now, Trout's plan is to play in the virus-delayed 60-game season, but a lot will hinge on how he feels over the next couple weeks.

"Honestly, I still don't feel comfortable with the baby coming," Trout said on a Zoom call on Friday.

"There's a lot of things on my mind. I'm trying to be the safest and most cautious to get through the season. It's going to be tough."

Trout has had discussions with general manager Billy Eppler and manager Joe Maddon on the trepidations of playing during a pandemic with a first child due.

"I've got to do right by my family," Trout said. "A lot of guys have questions. It's a tough, crazy situation in this country and in the world. Nobody has the answers."

Maddon said he empathises with everything Trout is facing.

"Everybody's truth matters right now," he said. "That's the one thing I have appealed to our guys. There's so much buried information I've encouraged everyone to think for themselves. I'm appealing to our guys to be as informed as they can and then arrive at their own truth. Tell me what they feel."

As part of MLB's COVID-19 guidelines, players can decide to opt out of the season at any time. Sever players already have said they will not play this season, including Mike Leake of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals team-mates Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman.

The Toronto Blue Jays were granted a waiver by the Canadian government allowing the team to train in their home ballpark this month.

The Blue Jays had previously planned on preparing for the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

Without the exemption granted by the Canadian government, players and staff would have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon crossing the United States-Canada border, making the location untenable.

All other 29 MLB teams were already planning on holding preseason training at their home ballparks.

While training in Canada is a step forward for the Blue Jays, the club are still without a settled home once the season starts later this month.

"While no final decision has been made on a site for Blue Jays regular-season home games, the club's preference remains Rogers Centre," the team said in a statement on Thursday.

"The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront. The Blue Jays will communicate updates about the regular season as information becomes available."

Canadian health authorities have already approved a plan for the NHL to play the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, but the plan does not involve travel between the USA and Canada.

After months of bitter negotiations, MLB and the players' union agreed last month to a 60-game season with a target start date of July 23.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jose Quintana underwent surgery on Monday for a laceration on the thumb of his throwing hand, the team said in a statement.  

During the surgery, doctors identified a lacerated nerve in the thumb and surgically repaired it.  

The left-hander suffered the cut last Saturday in his Miami home while washing dishes and received five stitches.  

Monday’s microscopic surgery was originally scheduled to determine the extent of the injury.  

The team said Quintana is expected to resume his throwing program in about two weeks but did not say whether or not the 2016 All-Star would be ready for the start of the MLB season later this month.  

The Cubs acquired Quintana in a midseason trade in 2017 with the cross-town Chicago White Sox for a haul of top prospects, including outfielder Eloy Jimenez.  

While Quintana's numbers have been worse since joining the Cubs, he has remained a reliable and durable part of the rotation, one of only four MLB pitchers to start at least 30 games in each of the last seven seasons.  

The 31-year-old Colombian is 33-23 in his Cubs career with a 4.23 ERA after going 50-54 with a 3.51 ERA with the White Sox.  

If Quintana is unable to pitch at the start of the season, the Cubs may turn to Tyler Chatwood or Alec Mills to fill out a rotation that features veterans Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish.  

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