With at least three games postponed after a COVID-19 outbreak among Miami Marlins players and coaches, Commissioner Rob Manfred said baseball’s coronavirus mitigation protocols are working exactly as planned, with officials anticipating a situation like this.
Yesterday’s Orioles/Marlins game at Marlins Park and the Yankees/Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park, where the Marlins just played a two-game series, were postponed after 14 Marlins–including two coaches–tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, causing three starters to be pulled from Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. Today’s Orioles-Marlins game was scrapped as well, but the Phillies and Yankees are set to roll in Philly.
Whether the two Marlins Park games would be played at Oriole Park as part of two straight doubleheaders, canceled or squeezed in later down the road remains to determined and will rely on test results returned today, according to Manfred, who commented on the developments in the friendly studios of MLB Network. He said that the testing and game changes were proof that the COVID-19 mitigation measures were working, and that MLB officials anticipated such an outbreak this season and planned for it, reviewing the situation with owners yesterday.
“We talked about the situation,” Manfred told interviewer Tom Verducci. “I think most of the owners realize that we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season, that the protocols were built in order to allow us to continue to play through those positives. I think there was support for the notion that we believe that the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe.”
“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change,” he added. “Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances. Same thing with respect to league-wide. You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat, and we certainly would shut down at that point.”
Not everyone else is quite as sanguine as Manfred when it comes to the future of the 2020 MLB season. “This could put it in danger,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Good Morning America. “I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who battled heart issues last season, expressed concern during an AP interview: “I’m going to be honest with you: I’m scared,” Martinez said. “My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12. I mean this thing really hits home now. … I got guys in our clubhouse that are really concerned, as well.”
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