NEW YORK – Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said a coronavirus outbreak within the Miami Marlins’ organization, 15 of whose players reportedly have tested positive as of Tuesday, should not be regarded as a cause for alarm.
In remarks on Monday night after 11 Marlins players and two coaches had tested positive, Manfred said he is convinced that the established safety and health protocols are working.
“We built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season,” he told MLB Network in an interview. “The protocols were built to continue to allow us to play through those positives. I think there was support for the notion that we believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe.”
Two games scheduled for Monday night and Tuesday night in Miami between the Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles were postponed due to the numerous positive tests among members of the South Florida team.
Another game between those same two teams that is scheduled for Wednesday has not yet been postponed and will be played if additional Marlins’ test results are deemed “acceptable.”
Separately, a game scheduled for Monday night between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia also was postponed.
That contest had to be pushed back pending the results of additional coronavirus testing on members of the Phillies, who played a three-game series against the Marlins over the weekend.
Manfred, however, said the fact that games have been postponed does not mean the entire season is in jeopardy, although he acknowledged that trying to hold a baseball season during a pandemic is not an ideal situation.
“I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” he said. “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 pool of additional players. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”
The league is trying to determine the source of the outbreak. One possibility, according to league sources, is that it originated on a charter flight from Atlanta after the Marlins had played a Summer Camp game there last Wednesday.
Manfred was asked during the interview what scenario would trigger at least a temporary shutdown of the world’s premier baseball league, which began a shortened, entirely behind-closed-doors season earlier this month.
“A team losing a number of players, making it completely noncompetitive, would be something we would have to address and have to think about making a change,” he said. “Our first concern is the health of the players and their families. And making sure we do everything possible to minimize the spread of the virus to our employees.”
The league hopes to learn from the Marlins situation and adjust its protocols accordingly, the commissioner added.
The Marlins, who were one of the worst teams in baseball last season, have won two of their first three contests of the MLB’s 60-game regular season.
According to multiple reports in the US media, four more Marlins players tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of players infected to 15.
No Phillies players had tested positive as of Tuesday morning.