Major League Baseball temporarily suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday because of the club’s worsening coronavirus outbreak, and the three remaining games in this week’s New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies series were postponed Tuesday as a precaution.
In a statement, MLB said it wanted to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and plan for a resumption of play early next week.
The announcement came after a majority of Washington Nationals players voted against traveling to Miami for this weekend’s series with the Marlins, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
The Marlins remained stranded in Philadelphia, where they played last weekend. The Phillies-Yankees games through Thursday were postponed ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ MLB said, although no Phillies players have tested positive.
The Marlins received positive test results for four additional players, bringing their total to 15, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person declined to be identified because the results had not been publicly released.
Nine players on the 30-man roster, two taxi squad players and two staff members tested positive earlier.
The Marlins had been scheduled to play at Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead, the Yankees will play at Baltimore on those days.
The outbreak was the talk of Major League Baseball on Monday as players and managers weighed the dangers of playing Miami.
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.’
Not all of the infected players have been identified publicly. Catcher Jorge Alfaro’s diagnosis was revealed Friday, and on Sunday, it was reported that right-hander Jose Urena had tested positive, as did first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez.
Miami’s three games this weekend at Washington were also postponed. Additional MLB rescheduling during the week of August 3 will be announced later this week.
The Marlins underwent another round of tests Tuesday morning. Their outbreak raised anew questions about baseball’s attempts to conduct a season outside of a bubble environment, which the NFL also has opted not to create for its season.
‘This could put it in danger,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation´s top infectious disease expert, said of the outbreak. ‘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.’
Fauci made his comments on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ before the news of the Marlins’ latest test results.
‘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 planned to remain in Philadelphia until at least Wednesday. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it was working with the Marlins and Phillies on contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.
Additional MLB rescheduling during the week of August 3 will be announced later this week. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offered up his state to any team needing a place to play. The Blue Jays have already been booted from Toronto by Canadian health officials and will now play their games in nearby Buffalo, New York.
MLB said that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 teams.
In Cleveland, Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria returned to the team Tuesday after awakening with some COVID-19 symptoms a day earlier and being isolated for 24 hours.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB would forge ahead despite the Marlins’ outbreak.
‘Obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing,’ Manfred said Monday night on the MLB Network. ‘But I don’t see it as a nightmare. … We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.’
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Manfred said there are factors that would force MLB to alter plans.
‘A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change,’ he said. ‘Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances. 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.’
MLB and the union held talks Monday after aspects of the protocols were widely ignored during the season’s first four days, such as the prohibitions on high-fives and other physical celebrations.
The NBA and NHL plan to resume their seasons in bubble environments, with basketball at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and hockey at Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto.
‘The NBA and the NHL have an advantage: smaller numbers of players, shorter period of time,’ Manfred said. ‘I understand why they did what they did. I’m just not sure it was workable for us.’
The NFL has opted not to create a bubble environment as training camps open this week.
‘It might be that they have to go in a bubble,’ Fauci said, ‘but I think they’re conscientious enough and want to protect their players and protect the personnel that they will do the right thing.’