MLB temporarily suspends Marlins season through the weekend
Major League Baseball temporarily suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday because of their worsening coronavirus outbreak, and the three remaining games in this week’s New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies series were postponed Tuesday.
In a statement, MLB said it wanted to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and plan for a resumption of play early next week.
The Marlins remained stranded in Philadelphia, where they played last weekend. The Phillies-Yankees games through Thursday were postponed “out of an abundance of caution,” MLB said, although no Phillies players have tested positive.
The Marlins received positive test results for four additional players, bringing their total to 15, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person declined to be identified because the results had not been publicly released.
Nine players on the 30-man roster, two taxi squad players and two staff members tested positive earlier.
The Marlins had been scheduled to play at Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead, the Yankees will play at Baltimore on those days.
Miami’s three games this weekend at Washington were also postponed. Additional MLB rescheduling during the week of Aug. 3 will be announced later this week.
The Marlins underwent another round of tests Tuesday morning. Their outbreak raised anew questions about baseball’s attempts to conduct a season outside of a bubble environment, which the NFL also has opted not to create for its season.
“This could put it in danger,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said of the outbreak. “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.”
Fauci made his comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America” before the news of the Marlins’ latest test results.
“Major League Baseball – the players, the owners, the managers – have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,” Fauci said. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with the Miami (Marlins).”
The Marlins planned to remain in Philadelphia until at least Wednesday. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it was working with the Marlins and Phillies on contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.
MLB said that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 teams.
In Cleveland, Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria returned to the team Tuesday after awakening with some COVID-19 symptoms a day earlier and being isolated for 24 hours.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB would forge ahead despite the Marlins’ outbreak.
“Obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing,” Manfred said Monday night on the MLB Network. “But I don’t see it as a nightmare. … We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”
Manfred said there are factors that would force MLB to alter plans.
“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 said. “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.”
MLB and the union held talks Monday after aspects of the protocols were widely ignored during the season’s first four days, such as the prohibitions on high-fives and other physical celebrations.
The NBA and NHL plan to resume their seasons in bubble environments, with basketball at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and hockey at Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto.
“The NBA and the NHL have an advantage: smaller numbers of players, shorter period of time,” Manfred said. “I understand why they did what they did. I’m just not sure it was workable for us.”
The NFL has opted not to create a bubble environment as training camps open this week.
“It might be that they have to go in a bubble,” Fauci said, “but I think they’re conscientious enough and want to protect their players and protect the personnel that they will do the right thing.”
AP Sports Writers Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia, Jake Seiner in New York and Tom Withers in Cleveland and Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
Marlins COVID-19 outbreak: Four additional players test positive resulting in at least 15 reported cases
Major League Baseball’s 2020 season is not even a week old, but one team has already experienced a coronavirus outbreak that will sideline a chunk of its roster and has caused a game to be canceled. The Miami Marlins, who had four players test positive during their opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies, had an additional seven players (as well as a few coaches) test positive on Monday, less than 12 hours before they were supposed to play their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles, per CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden. The Marlins have since had four other players test positive, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, bringing their total to 15 out of the 33 traveling with the club.
Factor in coaches, and the Marlins have had at least 18 individuals become infected over the last several days.
The Marlins did not play their home opener on Monday night as anticipated, and it seems unlikely that they’ll compete on Tuesday, either. Miami’s traveling party remains quarantined in Philadelphia, but the new positive tests suggest their series later this week in Baltimore could also be in danger of not being played as scheduled. (Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested the two teams could resume play as soon as Tuesday, provided there were “acceptable” testing results.)
The Marlins haven’t been the only team impacted by the outbreak. The Orioles returned to Baltimore on Monday night, and the Phillies, who hosted the Marlins over the weekend at Citizens Bank Park, also had their Monday and Tuesday night games vs. the Yankees postponed.
Who has been affected?
Four individuals consented to allow the Marlins to disclose their positive test ahead of Monday’s news: Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielders Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez, and pitcher Jose Urena, who was scratched prior to his Sunday start. None of the others have had their identities revealed. Remember, they have to give the Marlins permission.
Where are the Marlins, Orioles?
The Marlins have not left Philadelphia. They were scheduled to depart on Sunday evening, after the game, but changed their plans to leave on Monday. That flight did not take off, however.
The Orioles, meanwhile, are back in Baltimore. Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. tweeted that the plane was departing for Miami on Sunday night. That tracks with the normal operating procedures that see teams arrive the night prior rather than the morning of games. They then returned back home on Monday evening.
Are the Phillies at risk of a similar outbreak?
Because the Marlins almost certainly had individuals who tested positive playing in games over the weekend, it’s fair to wonder if the Phillies might be at risk of a similar outbreak.
Based on what is known about COVID-19, the highest risk for infection is spending prolonged time in closed or poorly ventilated areas with large crowds and in an intimate fashion. In other words, playing a baseball game outside with (mostly) fleeting contact does not seem like a situation that should engender transmission from one individual to another — at least not on another team.
The Athletic talked to a pair of infectious-disease experts who agreed that the likelihood of transmission from the Marlins to the Phillies was “low.” Of course, “low” doesn’t mean zero, and Phillies players (and Yankees players, if they are asked to dress in the same clubhouse as the Marlins did) are right to be nervous about the situation at hand.
So far, there’s been no indication that any Phillies player contracted COVID-19 from the Marlins series.
Will the season be canceled?
For the time being, no. Owners and commissioner Rob Manfred held a conference call Monday afternoon and reportedly decided not to pause or cancel the 2020 season at present. Still, there is plenty of uncertainty moving forward. Ostensibly, if the season remains in place, then more players could opt-out rather than expose themselves and their loved ones to the potential for a similar outbreak in their clubhouse.