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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak is NOT a ‘nightmare’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, is warning that the 2020 Major League Baseball season could be derailed as the Miami Marlins are now reportedly facing as many as 17 coronavirus infections.    

Fauci said Tuesday on ‘Good Morning America’ that Major League Baseball still has time to curb the spread of the pandemic.

‘This could put it in danger,’ said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. ‘I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.’

The Marlins completed a three-game series in Philadelphia on Sunday but opted not to fly back to Miami after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by positive tests. The team’s home opener against the Baltimore Orioles was canceled, as were Tuesday’s game in Miami and a pair of Phillies-Yankees games in Philadelphia. 

‘Major League Baseball – the players, the owners, the managers – have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,’ Fauci said. ‘It’s very unfortunate what happened with the Miami [Marlins].’ 

The Marlins reportedly learned of four more positive cases on Tuesday, bringing their total of players and coaches infected to 17, according to ESPN.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci to @GStephanopoulos on the MLB: ¿I don’t believe they need to stop but we need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.¿ https://t.co/JgCvhTifYS pic.twitter.com/Y9g7NL5HmG

Commissioner Rob Manfred solely has the power to postpone the season. Individual teams are given the leeway to postpone or cancel games as the Marlins and Phillies did on Monday. 

‘A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to 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. Same thing with respect to leaguewide. You get to a certain point leaguewide where it does become a health threat, and we certainly would shut down at that point.

‘I don’t put this in the nightmare category,’ Manfred said Monday on MLB Network. ‘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 expanded pools of additional players. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.

‘We expected we were going to have positives at some point in time. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough, that it will allow us to continue to play even through an outbreak like this and complete our season.’

Manfred said that if the results of the Marlins’ remaining coronavirus tests are at an ‘acceptable’ level, Miami will play at Baltimore on Wednesday as scheduled. However, he didn’t specify what is considered ‘acceptable.’

‘I’m concerned,’ Fauci told ABC. ‘I hope the players are alright. I heard that about a dozen of them have gotten infected. Even though they’re young, vigorous and very healthy, I hope they’re OK.’

Regarding what scenario potentially could shut down all action, either short term or long term, Manfred said, ‘A team losing a number of players, making it completely non-competitive would be something we would have to address and have to think about making a change. Whether that was shutting down the part of a season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances.

‘The same thing with respect to league-wide. You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point.

‘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.’

Although the Marlins played Sunday at Philadelphia even after three positive tests within the team were known, Manfred insisted that proper protocols were followed.

The Marlins’ outbreak was the talk of Major League Baseball on Monday as players and managers weighed the dangers of playing Miami. Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who missed time last year with heart problems, said he’d need to think twice about working against Miami. 

‘I’m going to be honest with you: I’m scared,’ Martinez said. ‘My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12. I mean this thing really hits home now. … I got guys in our clubhouse that are really concerned, as well.’ 

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