MLB’s season could be in jeopardy if teams and players can’t contain the coronavirus, commissioner Rob Manfred is warning, just a week after opening day.
And the shutdown could happen as soon as Monday.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Manfred sent this warning to the players union on Friday — at the conclusion of a week that’s seen the league ravaged by positive tests. The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies have their seasons on pause after a rash of positive tests. On Friday alone, six teams aren’t playing games because of the wide-ranging effects of players testing positive. The St. Louis Cardinals were the latest team impacted, with two positive tests announced Friday.
According to Passan, this weekend could be crucial for whether the season continues:
Should another outbreak materialize, Manfred, who has the power to shut the season down, could move in that direction. Multiple players briefed on the call fear that season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league's protocols.
State and local governments have pressured baseball about players skirting the mandates outlined in the league's 113-page operations manual, sources told ESPN. Broadcasts that have shown players not wearing masks, high-fiving and spitting have left government officials wondering how seriously players are taking the protocols, sources said.
The latest testing results, released Friday afternoon by MLB, say this week the league took 11,895 samples with 29 positives, or 0.2 percent. The troubling part is that 21 of those came from the same team, which we know to be the Marlins. It brings MLB’s total testing numbers to 40,783 with 58 positives, or 0.1 percent of those tested.
Despite those relatively small numbers, the season has already been marred by coronavirus concerns. From opening day, when Nationals star Juan Soto tested positive before the season’s first game, to this week’s Marlins outbreak, holding a baseball season during a pandemic has already proven more challenging than officials had planned for.
The Marlins went from four players infected to half their roster infected in two days. Now, 18 players from the Marlins are infected and their season is paused until at least Monday. The Phillies, their opponents last weekend, have had their season paused and are in quarantine. The Cardinals reported two positive players Friday. Schedules for the Nationals, Blue Jays, Yankees, Orioles and Brewers have all been affected because of the positive tests.
On Monday, Manfred said the Marlins situation wasn’t a “nightmare” scenario. By Friday, it sounds like MLB might be getting closer.
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