Major League Baseball began its second full week of regular season play with 25 players in isolation and on the coronavirus injured list: 18 members of the Miami Marlins and seven more from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals, who also have had six staff members test positive for the virus, had a four-game series at Detroit postponed and are not scheduled to play again until Friday against the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis.
The Marlins are slated to resume play again Tuesday at Baltimore after eight days off and with a depleted roster collected from their alternative site in Jupiter, Fla. The Marlins must try to make up as many games as possible with only four more vacant dates in the original 60-game schedule still available to play the seven games already postponed since a July 26 virus outbreak in Philadelphia.
“Ultimately whatever games are played or canceled are not up to us,” said Derek Jeter, the Hall-of-Fame New York Yankees shortstop who is Miami’s chief executive. “Hopefully this has been a wakeup call for everybody. We just have to do a lot better.”
Jeter said his afflicted players are isolated in Florida, some with mild symptoms and others asymptotic. The health and safety protocols specify that any of those players must have two negative tests before they can rejoin the team.
Jeter said there was no truth to the rumor the original outbreak occurred because players went out to a bar in Atlanta during a two-game exhibition series there July 21-22.
“During this particular trip the guys got relaxed and they let their guard down,” Jeter said. “They were getting together in groups. They weren’t wearing masks as much as they should have. They weren’t social distancing. The entire traveling party got a little too comfortable. Should they have been doing that? No!”
Despite the current set of circumstances, MLB is intent on trying to play out the regular season and make it into an expanded playoff format among 16 teams beginning at the end of September.
Commissioner Rob Manfred warned the players’ union that their members must follow the protocols so the league can get there. Manfred has the support of the owners and said this past weekend that he’s “not a quitter in general and there’s no reason to quit now.”
The goal is to get through the season, Jeter reiterated.
“I hope people look at what happened to us and look at it as a warning of just how quickly this is able to spread within a particular group if you’re not following the protocols 100-percent,” he said. “The disease is invisible. You can’t let your guard down whatsoever.”