Just four days in, MLB already facing coronavirus outbreak

UPDATE 7/31/20: Both the Phillies and Marlins have been shut down through at least Monday, with plans in place for the two teams to begin play once again on Tuesday in Miami. Rearrangements were made to the schedule, as the Yankees and Orioles moved to Baltimore for a two-game series.

The Phillies saw zero positive tests come up as it pertained to their roster, but two positive tests from a coach and clubhouse attendant forced the team to cancel workouts and all other activities at Citizens Bank Park until further notice. A doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday and another game on Sunday were scheduled to take place but have been postponed as a result.

The Marlins had another player test positive after a round of results came back late Thursday morning, bringing the total count to 17 players and two coaches. The team has since filled out most of their roster with players from their taxi squad and free agent signings, but there’s still doubt surrounding the team and understandably so.

ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that there’s a plan in place for sleeper buses to take the infected players and personnel back to Miami while the rest of the team prepare for a very, very long road trip of games.

UPDATE 7/28/20: The Marlins had four additional players test positive, bringing the team’s total number of cases to 17. The team is still in Philadelphia for the time being.

The Phillies reported zero positive cases on their team, but will undergo a second round of testing Tuesday morning at Citizen Banks Park. Because they didn’t get the test results back until late Tuesday morning, their matchup with the New York Yankees tonight has been postponed out of pure caution. There are no plans right now to postpone Wednesday night’s game, when the Phillies and Yankees move to New York for two games.

It’s important to note that the incubation period for the virus is 14 days, so while there were zero positives, it doesn’t mean that no one player or coach doesn’t have the virus. It is a good sign going into their second round of testing though.


Major League Baseball is facing it’s first COVID-19 outbreak after it was reported Monday morning that the Miami Marlins had 13 positive cases between staff and players. 

Miami, Florida has quickly become the new epicenter of the pandemic, with ~105,000 confirmed cases and close to 1,400 deaths in Miami-Dade County alone. 

Four teams have been directly affected by the outbreak. 

Miami Marlins 

The Marlins opened their season in Philadelphia this past weekend, winning two games of a three game set against the Phillies. 

Prior to the start of Sunday’s game, the organization confirmed that three players and one coach had tested positive, but the team still decided to play. None of those players participated in the game. 

Marlins manager Don Mattingly told the media that the team “never really considered not playing” and shortstop Miguel Rojas added that not playing was “never our mentality. We knew this would happen at some point. We came to the ballpark and we were ready to play. That was never our thought that we weren’t going to play”

It’s been reported that Rojas texted in the team’s group chat and that was where the decision was made. 

(Side note: Why was it left up to the choice of the players if they were to play or not? This isn’t just a sports issue.)

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday morning that seven more players and two coaches had tested positive afterwards. 

The Marlins are still in Philadelphia and are undergoing more testing. As a result, the team’s home opener, which was scheduled for Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles, has been cancelled. 

Tuesday’s game is going to be cancelled as well.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies home matchup with the New York Yankees on Monday night has been cancelled as well. The visitors clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, which the Marlins occupied and the Yankees were set to occupy, has been sanitized several times over since Sunday. 

The Phillies visiting clubhouse staff have been told to quarantine by the organization. The Yankees brought their own clubhouse staff to Philadelphia last night as a result of the chaos. 

Phillies players were administered saliva tests Monday morning at Citizens Bank Park and then sent home immediately afterwards. The samples were then sent to a lab at Rutgers University with the hope that they’ll receive those results so they can begin playing again. Even with the hopefully quick turnaround time, Tuesday night’s game is in jeopardy. 

Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic pointed out a concern for the Phillies in terms of how fast they might get the results of today’s tests back: “Another concern for Phils: Due to incubation period, tests they are taking today and tomorrow might not show whether they were positive from contact yesterday. Team supposed to travel to NY tomorrow night, but how confident can players be knowing results will not be up to minute?”

It’s fair to assume that the Phillies could be victim to a similar outbreak because they played against the Marlins. Even though the three players who tested positive didn’t play on Sunday, they still played in the games prior. 

Although two infectious-disease experts who spoke recently with The Athletic noted that the chance of transmission from the Marlins to the Phillies was low. 

New York Yankees

After a three-game series in Washington, the Yankees traveled to Philadelphia and for the time being, are in limbo at their hotel. 

The Yankees and Phillies are scheduled to play in New York on Wednesday and Thursday, and if there aren’t any more big scares, those games could be played. Monday and Tuesday games could be added as doubleheaders to Wednesday and Thursday, or played at another point in the season (if the season isn’t cancelled). 

Baltimore Orioles 

With Tuesday’s game being cancelled as well, the Orioles traveled back to Baltimore and could maybe play Wednesday and Thursday there against the Marlins. 

It really all depends on how the situation shakes out with the Marlins. 

Who’s speaking out? 

Two notable names that have spoken out are Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price and Dr. Zachary Binney, one of the two infectious disease experts that spoke with The Athletic. 

In a tweet, Price said, “Now we REALLY get to see if MLB is going to put players first. Remember when [Rob] 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 decided to opt out of the 2020 season. 

Binney has been active on Twitter on Monday, saying that the Marlins should not have played on Sunday, and that there was “really no excuse” to play. 

Before the decision was made to cancel Tuesday’s game, the hope from MLB was that dependent on test results, the team would take a bus to Baltimore to play with players from the teams taxi squad filling up the rest of the roster. Binney thinks that the Marlins and Phillies should be shut down for at least five days. 

“… this is absolutely insane,” Binney said in a tweet. “This is, if possible, the literal stupidest possible plan. You have a raging outbreak, anyone in the Marlins traveling party could be infected regardless of how their tests come back. So by all means, just bring that on the road to Baltimore!”

He added in a response, “MLB: The. Marlins. Are. A. Hot. Zone. They are an ongoing outbreak. Show even a shred of self-reflection and humanity. At least fake it. Who are your medical and public health advisors? Where are they?”


Manfred went on MLB Network Monday night to discuss the situation and said, “I don’t put this in the nightmare category.”

MLB is trying to complete a 60-game season in 67 days, and just four days in there’s already monumental problems. 

Manfred said that he expects to have a first set of test results from the Phillies and Marlins on Tuesday and will give an update then. 

How the league reacts to all that has happened on Monday could either make or break the entire season. 

This story will be updated with new details once they emerge. 

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