Major League Baseball may alter how it reports injuries in the midst of a pandemic. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday teams will not make an announcement when a player is out due to the coronavirus.
How will fans and media find out a player is out with a positive test or COVID-19 symptoms? Well, they’ll have to figure it out themselves.
This is weird. Brian Cashman says it's his understanding that if a player goes on the COVID-19 injured list, teams will not announce that. It will be left for media and fans to just figure it out.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) June 30, 2020
It’s possible that could change before the season starts, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The MLBPA and the league are reportedly discussing how to handle that situation.
Because this is a virus, and not a broken bone, there’s more of a gray area in whether teams should divulge private medical issues. When Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini left the team to deal with colon cancer, the Orioles initially called it a “non-baseball medical procedure.” The team allowed Mancini to reveal that information when he felt the time was right. Teams could take a similar approach when players test positive for coronavirus.
While that’s a positive from a player privacy standpoint, there’s also an argument for transparency in the middle of a pandemic. If a player missed three games in a row due to a hamstring injury, people will wonder if the player is secretly dealing with coronavirus.
There are also gambling implications, and while that feels dirty to talk about when a player’s health is on the line, MLB partnered with MGM and sports betting companies over the past couple years. Will MLB tell its partners whether a player has the virus but not the general public?
There’s also the issue of everyone that player came in contact with being aware of the situation, though one assumes the league would privately communicate that information to opposing teams, ballpark staff and anyone else involved.
MLB and its players are wise to put thought into the issue, but it’s unlikely there’s a perfect answer. That’s one of the costs of holding a season during a pandemic.
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