Opening day at the new Polar Park in Worcester will have to wait. ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news Tuesday -- later confirmed by MLB -- that the start of the Triple-A season will be delayed by at least a month.
Teams will instead once again use alternate training sites similar to those employed during the 2020 season at least through April. Last year’s alternate sites featured a mix of MLB-ready potential call-ups as well as prospects they wanted to make sure were continuing to develop despite not playing games. Passan reports teams are expected to have about two dozen players at the alternate sites to start this season, roughly the size of a Triple-A roster.
The Red Sox used Pawtucket as their alternate site last year, but with their Triple-A affiliate moving to Worcester this season, it would make sense to use Polar Park. The Red Sox have not yet confirmed that is their plan, though.
Passan reports that part of the reason for delaying the Triple-A season is to allow more time for as many players as possible to get vaccinated, making it easier to call players up without them having to quarantine first.
Passan also adds that the Triple-A season is expected to be extended into September to make up for at least some of the lost games from April. It’s unclear if the plan will still be for Worcester and other Triple-A teams to play a full 142-game schedule.