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After Marlins’ COVID-19 crisis, Orioles try to balance staying safe while staying on the field

“It’s been an unusual day or two, for sure,” Hyde said. “But we’re happy to be home. We’re looking forward to our home opening day tomorrow.

Two days spent wrapped up in the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak added perspective for an Orioles team that has now had its schedule drastically changed.

The rapid spread of cases in the Marlins’ clubhouse brought all the risks of playing baseball in a pandemic to the forefront, raising questions about how the league could continue its shortened season.

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The Orioles returned home Monday after a postponement of their game in Miami after the Marlins couldn’t travel because of their coronavirus outbreak, and spent part of Tuesday grappling with the idea that they could still face the Marlins the next day in their home opener.

Major League Baseball settled on having another team whose opponent was affected, the New York Yankees, come play them Wednesday and Thursday at Camden Yards instead.

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The episode showed how the two poles the Orioles are trying to occupy at once — keeping themselves and their families safe from the virus and the desire to play baseball to solidify a major league career — might be growing farther and farther apart.

“I think it’s natural to, when there’s numerous guys on one team that tested positive, I think there is a little bit of concern,” Hyde said. “But we want to play. Our guys want to play. We feel comfortable about how things are here right now. Like I said, we’re going to continue to follow closely all the guidelines in place because our guys really want to be on the field. This was something that was possible and it’s extremely unfortunate, but I know that our guys want to play baseball, so I think we’re taking it very, very seriously.”

To hear Chris Davis, the team’s longest-tenured player and union representative tell it, it wasn’t always the case that the Orioles wanted to play. When it was still possible that the Marlins could take their players who test negative to Baltimore and play Wednesday, Davis said that the Orioles didn’t have an official vote not to play, but talked about their concerns.

“There were definitely discussions of just kind of what everyone’s concerns with playing the Marlins [were],” Davis said. “Obviously being in Miami for a night, we were a little concerned about that.”

Hyde, for his part, thought about friends on the Marlins staff who could be impacted. But he seemed to mostly be viewing the situation as one in which the Orioles had to be prepared to play the Marlins and deal with changes as they came.

He described a normal-sounding day at the team’s posh Miami hotel Monday: a room service breakfast, some conversations about the Marlins’ situation and how it impacted the Orioles, a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries for lunch, and then “the next thing you know, we’re not playing, and heading back to Baltimore.”

Hyde said: “We were preparing for the Marlins, to play the Marlins. I prepared in the morning. I was still going through all my stuff like we were going to play the Marlins, but knowing that there might be change. I was following the reports along with everybody else. It’s not easy to not know, so we’re just hanging around not knowing what’s going on. It almost felt like you’re just sitting around waiting in your clubhouse waiting to play. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s definitely an uneasy feeling.

“I think you start to think about the people that are over there and you’re hoping that everything is OK. And then with our situation, it was just the wait-and-see. I don’t know what else to say, really. It was just kind of a numb feeling of, ‘What’s going to happen?’”

Davis has wondered plenty about what’s going to happen going forward, specifically what he can do to stay safe while continuing to play. He said he’d likely wear a mask Wednesday while playing first base, in addition to wearing one in all of the indoor spaces that MLB requires.

He remains concerned about his wife and three young children, and said he “can’t even think about bringing this home, but it’s the risk that I assumed.”

“My wife and I have talked about it on more than one occasion,” Davis said. “We think it’s something that’s worth at least going out there and giving it a shot before we call it quits. I’m going to do everything I can to protect myself and hopefully be able to get through this season with no hiccups.”

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