Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that he didn’t find out that the Orioles would be hosting the Marlins in Miami’s return from a league-mandated COVID-19 quarantine because of their clubhouse outbreak until Major League Baseball announced it Saturday.
After a week in which the Orioles flew to Miami and didn’t play a game there and hosted the New York Yankees a week ahead of schedule, Hyde’s club faces four games in three days against the Marlins, beginning Tuesday at Camden Yards. He knows not to get too comfortable with anything until that night’s first pitch.
“We’re adjusting on the fly,” Hyde said. “It’s a dodge-and-weave. Every day there’s something new. Tomorrow, there’s probably going to be something else. I just think that we’re staying flexible. I knew that there was something that was going to have to be on the schedule there at some point this next week. I just didn’t know what was going to happen and when they’d be scheduled or what.
“Honestly, I wake up in the morning, I see what’s happening around the world and around sports and around our sport, and put on my fireman’s hat and try to put on fires until 7:35 [p.m.]”
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said: “Obviously, the schedule’s on wheels right now.”
The Orioles will host the Marlins for a rescheduled series beginning Tuesday at Camden Yards, MLB announced Saturday, after Miami spent the past week quarantined in Philadelphia because of a COVID-19 outbreak that spread to over half of its clubhouse and traveling staff.
On the original schedule, the Orioles were meant to play the Yankees for three games Monday through Wednesday. Those contests were moved up a week as the Yankees’ opponent, the Phillies, also had their schedule suspended after Philadelphia played the Marlins last Sunday despite evidence of an outbreak in Miami’s clubhouse.
The Marlins’ healthy players will come to Baltimore early next week to begin a run of four games in three days — one of which will be a seven-inning doubleheader. At least 21 members of the Marlins’ traveling party have reportedly been infected, but the team had no new positive tests as of Saturday morning, MLB said.
“I don’t think we’re really stressed too much about the Marlins coming in,” Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong said Saturday. “Obviously, a lot of positive tests are negative. That’s not a good thing for MLB in general. But we’re doing our part here on and off the field and we’re controlling what we need to control.”
MLB’s schedule changes came after the coronavirus forced baseball’s 17th postponement in 10 days on Saturday, prompting at least two more players to opt out and casting doubt the league can complete a truncated 2020 season.
A Cardinals-Brewers game in Milwaukee was postponed for the second straight day after one more player and several staff members with St. Louis tested positive for the coronavirus in rapid samples, MLB said.
The Phillies, meanwhile, were permitted to access Citizens Bank Park for staggered workouts beginning in the afternoon.
MLB said that no Phillies players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, and while three staff members have tested positive, it appeared two were attributable to false positives and the third, based on the timing of the positive test, may not have contracted COVID-19 from the Marlins.
Hyde said before Saturday’s game that he hadn’t had time to address the schedule change or the Marlins game with his team, but he’s deferring to MLB’s decision in terms of whether it’s wise.
“We’re trusting MLB, and I feel really strongly that we’ve followed the protocols so well here. I know that MLB is on top of it,” he said. “If they feel like they’re comfortable with them playing here, I’m comfortable as well, just because I know how stringent our protocols are and how they’re keeping the players health and safety first for everybody. They feel like it’s the right thing to do, and positive from a standpoint — positive is a bad word right now — if they think it’s safe and healthy for these guys to play, then we’ll be ready.”
Elias said the Orioles aren’t concerned with the visit because of the protocols in place at Camden Yards.
“Anyone who’s here is going to go through the exact same protocols, more than the general public does — way more than what the general public does,” Elias said. “[With] our intake and all the vetting, the extra vetting that’s gone into settling out the Marlins’ situation, by the time they get in here, we’re going to have a total understanding of that.
“On top of that, we’ve got our own protocols here that we’re hopeful that, if ever someone is in the building that is carrying the virus, that these protocols will prevent a spread if we all adhere to them.”
It’s not clear whether government officials will allow the Marlins to play at Camden Yards this week. The office of Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns Oriole Park at Camden Yards, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.
When asked on Twitter whether the Marlins resuming their schedule Tuesday seemed safe, Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University in Atlanta, said that the move was “aggressive” but didn’t caution against it.
“Aggressive, but by then it would be fairly unlikely for any of the negative Marlins left in Philly to test positive at this point, I guess?” said Binney, who has a doctorate in epidemiology and has applied his expertise to sports injury and illness. “So if you can field a competitive team between them + Jupiter [Marlins’ alternate training site in Florida] + new signings (who have two negative tests) I suppose it’s ok.”
Still, the adjustments are making life complicated for Hyde and the Orioles. In addition to his fireman’s hat, he said he’s also got his counselor’s certificate.
“I don’t think there’s a class you can take for what we’re going through every day,” Hyde said. “It’s not a pity party situation, either. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be with our guys. There’s serious issues going on around and we’re very, very aware. We’re going to do everything we can and do our part to keep this thing going. We’re hoping it continues.”
Further complicating matters for the Orioles this week is the expected arrival of Isaias, a storm on a path to sweep up the length of East Coast. Isaias weakened to a tropical storm as it continued its march to the Florida coast Saturday, but is expected to strengthen before it makes landfall. It is forecast to reach Maryland by Tuesday — and could bring heavy rainfall.
The Orioles were meant to be off Thursday, but instead will have a day off Monday. The game scheduled for Wednesday against the Yankees will be made up at a later date.
The Marlins will be the home team for two of the games at Camden Yards.
The situation works out for former Orioles reliever Richard Bleier, who was traded to the Marlins early Saturday morning for a player to be named later. He’ll get to stay put until he rejoins his new team.
He was one of a half-dozen players the Marlins added through waiver claims, free agency and trades to fill out their roster this week, with the rest expected to come from their secondary camp site in Jupiter, Florida.
Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz and the Associated Press contributed to this article.