Jun 3, 2020 - Sports

Positive coronavirus tests put Japanese baseball's comeback in jeopardy

Mariners OF Mitch Haniger hits a two-run HR during a preseason friendly game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo last March

The Seattle Mariners' Mitch Haniger hits a home run during a preseason game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo last March. Photo: Masterpress/Getty Images

The Yomiuri Giants, Japan's most famous baseball team, called off a preseason game Wednesday after two players tested positive for coronavirus, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: The 12-team league hopes to open its delayed season on June 19 in empty stadiums, but this news puts that date at risk. And it serves as a reminder that every return-to-play proposal is subject to change based on the wobble of this virus — and that all leagues are one positive test away from their plans going up in smoke.

  • What's next: All Giants players, coaches and staff will be tested for coronavirus on Thursday morning (it's currently nighttime there).

The latest on sports leagues' plans to return here in the U.S.:

  • NBA: As the NBA models a 22-team format for its proposed return on July 31 at Disney World, a timeline shared with teams showed Oct. 12 as the latest possible date to complete the season, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • MLS: If approved by players (could happen as early as this morning), MLS will reportedly return on June 24 with a tournament-style competition at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
  • WNBA: If there is a season this year, the WNBA plans to hold games at just one location. The MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and the IMG Academy in Florida are reportedly the top candidates.
  • U.S. Open: The USTA has proposed a doubleheader in New York to salvage two of its biggest tournaments. The proposal would move the Western & Southern Open, a men's and women's event near Cincinnati, to New York, where it would be lead directly into the U.S. Open at the same venue.

Go deeper: The last baseball players standing during the coronavirus shutdown

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