After taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, the Miami Marlins learned Monday that nine members of their organization (seven players, two coaches) had contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Four additional players tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, increasing the team’s total number of cases to 17. The outbreak, which comes less than a week removed from Opening Day, has raised questions as to whether Major League Baseball can safely continue with the 2020 season.
Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed some of these concerns during an interview with Tom Verducci on MLB Network. “I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” he said of the Marlins’ crisis.
“Obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters, that’s why we have the pools of additional players. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”
As of now, there are no plans to pause or cancel the remainder of the season. However, Manfred noted he would take action if the situation across the league worsens. “There is certainly both,” he said when asked if he would suspend or pull the plug on the season.
“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. Whether that was shutting down a part of a season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances.
“The 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 did subsequently announce games on the Marlins’ schedule have been postponed through Sunday. Additionally, the remainder of the home-and-home series between the Phillies and New York Yankees has been postponed.
As a result of these postponements, the Yankees are now scheduled to play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten: MLB ‘expected’ outbreak
Los Angeles Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten revealed that he isn’t concerned with the Marlins’ outbreak, partly because MLB anticipated one happening at some point.
Teams were permitted to field 60-player pools to mitigate a potential outbreak, but for the Marlins’ sake, they are now without exactly half of their Opening Day roster.
Despite this, team owners came together on a scheduled call Monday and reportedly did not discuss the possibility of pausing or canceling the season.
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