Led By Justin Turner, Dodgers Impose New Health & Safety Protocols
Justin Turner
Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

While there was plenty of excitement surrounding the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season after a four-month layoff due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, games are barely one week into the schedule and there has already been multiple teams with positive tests.

The Miami Marlins are dealing with an outbreak as 18 of their players tested positive, forcing a postponement of all their games this week. Then, on Friday morning it was announced two St. Louis Cardinals players have also tested positive, and additional members of the organization have as well.

It is clear that MLB is taking this seriously as commissioner Rob Manfred sent a memo to the Players Association stating that the season is in jeopardy of being shut down once again if players do not take the health and safety protocols seriously to avoid another team outbreak.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the teams with World Series aspirations, so they obviously would like to avoid that happening. Manager Dave Roberts said prior to Friday’s game that he and Justin Turner had just discussed the landscape.

“Floated the idea that all of our guys should wear a mask in the dugout when they’re not playing,” Roberts said.

“Essentially having that mask as part of your equipment, so it’s an easy access to put on when you’re not on the field of play. Trying to keep the numbers down in the dugout. We’re certainly talking about it. We’ve worked hard to get to this point, so we just have to do everything we can to minimize the spread.”

It didn’t take long to get the new rules in place, as led by Turner, the Dodgers made changes that took effect immediately.

Among the new protocols the Dodgers established are all players must wear face coverings in the dugout during games, players who aren’t in the game cannot sit in the dugout, pitching coaches are no longer in the dugout when the team is on offense, and hitting coaches aren’t present when the team is on defense.

Players and coaches also are no longer shaking hands, and relievers in the bullpen will maintain at least six feet of distance while also wearing a face covering. Additionally, when players are away from the field, they will avoid public marketing appearances.

These are all protocols that should have been in place throughout the league from the start of the season. It is good to see that the Dodgers are taking things more seriously now, and hopefully other teams will follow suit.

High-fiving is something that has been a habit for athletes for generations, but Roberts stressed they must try to break that. “I’m just as guilty as anyone,” he acknowledged.

“I’m an emotional guy and like to give dap to the players, but I’ve got to be better. We’ve all got to be better. It’s just got to be a more conscious effort by all of us to minimize the touching. Granted, when I high-five or fist bump, guys are wearing batting gloves. But you’ve still got to be mindful of things like that. It’s old habits we’ve got to find a way to break, especially in this time.”

Roberts not worried about season being shut down

Despite the Marlins and Cardinals having positive tests and Manfred essentially sending a threat to the players, Roberts isn’t overly concerned about the season being shut down yet.

“The Marlins thing, I think is a separate incident from the Cardinals’ situation. I’m just not surprised it popped up,” Roberts said. “Hopefully we can minimize it and do everything we can to keep it at bay. That’s why we put protocols in place and have a lot of players to be accessed.”

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