• Kyodo

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The six team presidents of Japanese pro baseball's Pacific League agreed in an online meeting Tuesday that it will be difficult to open the season on April 24, during the current COVID-19 outbreak, a source within the league said.

Both of Nippon Professional Baseball's six-team, top-flight leagues, the Central and Pacific, were originally slated to open play on March 20. But due to the spread of the coronavirus, that date is currently postponed until April 24. Representatives of the 12 teams are set to meet on Friday, when the PL is expected to suggest another postponement.

"Currently, the number of cases is increasing in Tokyo, and ballplayers have been infected too," said Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks President Yoshimitsu Goto, who added that the original plan for each team to play 143 regular season games may have to be sacrificed.

"We are looking at this very carefully. We are looking at a new opening day (date), even if it means not playing a 143-game schedule."

The teams played most of their preseason exhibition games behind closed doors in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Teams had been playing minor league practice games until last week, when three Hanshin Tigers players tested positive for the coronavirus.

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