MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league is prepared for an outbreak and has no plans to shut down after more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the postponement of three games. The Marlins’ Monday home opener and a Tuesday game against the Baltimore Orioles were postponed, as was a Monday New York Yankees’ meeting against the Phillies in Philadelphia. The Marlins finished a three-game series there on Sunday.
Manfred said Marlins games would resume Wednesday in Baltimore, depending on additional test results. Manfred also said there were no plans to shut down the season.
“We expected we were going to have positives at some point. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to play even through an outbreak like this, and complete our season,” Manfred said in an interview on MLB Network.
The Marlins, who just finished a series at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, reported that 12 players and two coaches tested positive for the disease, which has been the cause of more than 4 million cases and 147,000 deaths throughout the country.
The Phillies’ visiting clubhouse staff has been quarantined, and the Yankees, who played in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, were planning to bring their own clubhouse personnel. The remainder of the series there is in limbo, a baseball official said.
The long-delayed season began this past Thursday after having been suspended since March 12. Major League Baseball and their players’ union reported Friday that there had been only four new positive tests last week among the players, bringing the count to 84 since testing began.
Major players such as Buster Posey, David Price and Nick Markakis had previously opted out of playing this season.
The league has had the players under strict health protocols since training camps restarted in all of the league cities at the beginning of July. But traveling for exhibition games and regular season games just began last week.
“Major League Baseball has been coordinating with the Major League Baseball Players Association; the Marlins; the Orioles; the Marlins’ weekend opponent, the Phillies; and Club medical staffs, and will continue to provide updates as appropriate,” MLB said in a statement Monday.
On Sunday, four Marlins players, including pitcher Jose Urena, tested positive, and the team didn’t travel from Philadelphia to Miami after the game. Since then eight more players and two coaches have reported testing positive.
“After a successful Spring 2.0, we have now experienced challenges once we went on the road and left Miami,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said. “Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation. We have conducted another round of testing for our players and staff, and our team will all remain in Philadelphia pending the results of those tests, which we expect later today.”
The Marlins played exhibition games in Atlanta before traveling to Philadelphia to open the season. The Braves have had a rash of illness and positive tests since camp opened, including one of its top players, first baseman Freddie Freeman.
(Updated headline and with comments from the MLB commissioner in the second paragraph.)