Northwest League won't start this week
In a surprise to no one, the Northwest League has announced that its season will not start on June 17 and has been postponed indefinitely.
The Hillsboro Hops were to open the 2020 season on Wednesday at Spokane. Their first home game was to be June 22.
Gov. Kate Brown announced last month that social distancing policies would remain in effect until there is a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19. She said professional sports games won't be able to be played with crowds through at least September.
At the time, Hops management said they were still hopeful to be able to play in front of fans this year.
But last week, the Northwest League season was officially put on hold.
"The league and its clubs will continue to monitor the situation and work with our Major League Baseball affiliates, while following the recommendations of public health officials and adhering to local reopening guidelines," a statement from the Northwest League issued Friday, June 12, read in part. "As always, the health and safety of the Northwest League fans, players and staff members is our top priority."
The Hops are an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are currently the Portland metropolitan area's only professional baseball team.
Hillsboro is the defending champion of the Northwest League, defeating the Tri-City Dust Devils in five games last September for the title.
Additionally, the annual All-Star Game played between the Northwest League and the Pioneer League has been canceled.
Minor league baseball teams across the country have been benched. Most leagues open in early April, but the Northwest League is classified as Class A Short Season, starting play about a week after the Major League Baseball draft in June.
Class A Short Season teams typically field a number of players drafted out of college baseball programs, along with a mixture of prospects drafted the previous year and players who were signed as international amateurs out of countries like the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela.
The MLB draft was held last week, but it was drastically shortened, cut from 40 rounds to just five rounds due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Of the Diamondbacks' five selections, three were drafted out of college programs.
Major League Baseball itself has not yet figured out a plan to play games in 2020.
On Monday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he is "not confident" there will be a season this year, as team owners and the players' union have clashed over salaries, the playoff format, health and safety regulations, and more.
Some independent baseball teams — not affiliated with Major League Baseball — have announced plans to play a limited slate of games this year in states with fewer restrictions.