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MLB commissioner tells teams to prepare for 162-game season with spring training starting in February

The start date of the 2021 MLB season is still unclear, but the owners expect an on-time start.

General view inside of the Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility, American Family Fields of Phoenix on April 07, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is scheduled to start spring training in a little over a month, and Commissioner Rob Manfred told teams to prepare for that to in fact happen, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

The league released a schedule that would call for spring training to begin on February 17 and opening day of the 2021 season to take place on April 1. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about whether or not the league would opt for a second straight shortened season. There has been speculation of a Memorial Day start, but for the time being that won’t happen.

MLB owners cannot unilaterally delay the start of the season. They have to negotiate all working conditions with the players’ union and the players have told the owners they will not accept less than 100 percent pay for the season. Last year, the two sides negotiated a 60-game season in which the players received only 37 percent of their salaries. The owners claimed $3 billion in losses, but has not opened their books to provide proof of those losses.

The two sides negotiated COVID-19 protocols for last year’s shortened season, but has not finalized them yet for spring training or the 2021 season, according to a report from Nightengale last week.