xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

MLB commissioner says league’s protocols are built for play to continue despite positive COVID-19 tests

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said that he expects to have the results of follow-up COVID-19 testing on the Miami Marlins that will determine whether they can resume play against the Orioles later this week at Camden Yards late Monday night, and a decision will be made after that as to how the league will proceed.

Speaking in an interview on MLB Network, Manfred defended the league’s testing protocols and said that they were designed to keep the league playing even with positive tests. He said the Marlins’ situation, which reportedly features 11 players and several staff members having tested positive in the last few days, was not in the “nightmare category.”

Advertisement

“Obviously we don’t want any player to get exposed,” Manfred said. “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 pool of additional players. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”

Every team has a player pool that can include up to 60 players to pull from during the season, with those not on the active roster staying ready at an alternate training site. Teams will open the season with 30-man rosters. After two weeks, that will drop to 28, then down to 26 two weeks after that, with that roster size carrying through the end of the regular season in late September.

Advertisement

The Orioles-Marlins game was one of two postponed Monday. The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees were scheduled to play Monday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where the Marlins played the past three days.

Manfred said there will be additional testing on Marlins players that will determine whether they can return to play Wednesday for the Orioles’ scheduled home opener against Miami at Camden Yards.

In the interim, the rest of the league will continue on in a season that’s barely a week old but is already grappling with its first significant challenge in an attempt to navigate a full season with travel in a pandemic, one that’s worsening in the United States by the day.

“I think most of the owners realize we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point in the season, that the protocols were built to allow us to continue to play through those positives,” Manfred said. “And I think there was support for the notion that we believe that the protocols are adequate to keep the players safe.”

Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, told the Associated Press that the Marlins’ outbreak isn’t a surprise because MLB’s plan was seriously flawed.

“Baseball is in huge trouble,” Morris said. “It makes me wonder if they are listening to the advice of experts or whether their experts are giving them good advice. This was not a plan anyone who knows what they are talking about would have conceived. It’s playing out like it was supposed to play out.”

During the summer camp portion of the league’s year, in which teams prepared for the season at their home ballparks, positive tests were scarce. Just four players tested positive league-wide during the week before the season started, though as games began, so did the circumstances.

Teams began traveling for exhibition games last weekend, and the league’s decision for teams to play out of their home parks this season means that half the teams are on the road at a given time, removing them from the safe confines created during the camp environment at their home parks.

MLB’s protocols test players every other day, though the results typically aren’t available until the next day. That means asymptomatic players can be carrying the virus and able to transmit it to those around them in the interim.

The league is allowing teams to operate secondary player sites for minor league depth to cover for those who need to miss time due to the virus. Manfred said in the MLB Network interview that the season will continue, but outlined what it would take to change that.

“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address and think about making a change,” Manfred said. “Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances. If you get to the point league-wide where it does become a health threat, we certainly would shut down at that point.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement