MLB, union discuss playing all games in Arizona

Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, the people said.

Half of the MLB clubs hold spring training in Arizona, the other half in Florida.

Arizona’s advantage is 10 spring training ballparks plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field all within about 50 miles. Florida’s spring training ballparks are spread by as much as 220 miles.

Baseball’s season had been set to start March 26 but spring training was halted on March 12. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.

NFL going with virtual format for upcoming draft

The NFL draft will be conducted in a virtual format, with team personnel working from their homes.

In a memo sent to the 32 teams Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined procedures for the April 23-25 draft. The guidelines include no group gatherings.

“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the competition committee and CEC (a group of league executives),” Goodell wrote, “and this will confirm that clubs will conduct their draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.”

All team facilities were closed on March 26 and Goodell has ordered them to remain shut indefinitely.

The draft originally was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, but the NFL canceled all public events last month as a safeguard against the coronavirus. On Monday, Goodell instructed the teams on how they should plan to make their selections.

No NBA decisions expected before May

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is bracing for several more weeks of uncertainty about the remainder of this halted season, revealing Monday night that he does not expect the league will be able to decide anything until at least May.

Silver spoke on the NBA’s Twitter account as part of the league’s new NBATogether initiative, in a conversation hosted by Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson.

“Essentially, what I’ve told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said. “And I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be.”

The NBA was the first of the major U.S. pro leagues to shut down because of the COVID-19 threat, doing so after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for the virus. The league’s regular season was to end next Wednesday and the playoffs were to begin April 18.

That isn’t going to happen, and that has been known for some time. The NBA wants this season to resume, but simply cannot say with any certainty if it will or will not happen.

New coach using stoppage to study up on his Preds

John Hynes has only been head coach of the Nashville Predators since early January, so he’s trying to make up for some lost time with the NHL paused for the coronavirus pandemic and also make sure they’re ready whenever hockey resumes.

A big part of that has been getting to know each of his Predators much, much better.

“We’ve gone through every single player,” Hynes told reporters Monday. “We’ve got a written report on everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of improvement, what type of person they are, what type of player they are, how they fit in our culture. We’ve done an extensive evaluation collectively as a group on our players.”

The Predators hired Hynes on Jan. 7 to replace Peter Laviolette in this franchise’s first midseason coaching change. He was introduced only hours before a 6-2 loss to Boston.

Predators general manager David Poile made the move with Nashville (19-15-7) having lost four of five games and 11th in the Western Conference standings with 45 points.

When the NHL play stopped March 12, the Predators flew home from Toronto with a record of 35-26-8 and 78 points holding the second wild-card spot in the West. They went 6-3-1 over their last 10 games, winning three straight before the stoppage.