Over the weekend, 13 Miami Marlins players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak postponed two games Monday night, causing many teams to doubt whether baseball can continue amid the coronavirus crisis. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, however, doesn’t believe the latest development will disrupt the 2020 season.
Despite the unexpected flare up in COVID-19 cases among the Miami Marlins, Manfred argues that the league’s health and safety protocols are working.
“We built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season,” Manfred said during an interview on MLB Network. “The protocols were built to allow us to play through those positives. We believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe.”
At least 11 players and two coaches tested positive over the past few days. Rather than travel back to Miami to take on the Baltimore Orioles, the Marlins stayed in Philadelphia to be retested. Pending the results, they will travel to Baltimore to begin their series on Wednesday.
Although Manfred said players and owners knew contracting the virus was a real possibility, he doesn’t consider the latest outbreak to be a “nightmare” scenario.
“I don’t put this in the nightmare category. It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players,” Manfred said.
Manfred was also asked would it would take to shut down the league as it pertains to coronavirus. According to the commissioner, a team would need a high-infection rate before he would suspend play even for a short period of time.
“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,” Manfred 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 L.A. Dodgers starting pitcher David Price had some blunt words for Manfred’s handling of the Marlins’ outbreak. He questioned the commissioners dedication to player safety.
“Now we really get to see if MLB is going to put players health first. Remember when Manfred said players health was paramount?! Part of the reason I’m at home right now is because players health wasn’t being put first. I can see that hasn’t changed,” Price tweeted.
Washington Nationals skipper Dave Martinez is also very concerned with the outbreak. Jesse Dougherty, Nationals writer for the Washington Post, tweeted about the manager’s current feelings regarding the Marlins’ positive tests.
“Dave Martinez is pretty emotional right now. He says the players are his family, and he’s already lost a lot of sleep this month,” Dougherty wrote. “When asked about whether he has doubts about going to Miami this weekend: ‘Hopefully they make the right decision. That’s all I’m going to say.'”