Just days after it began, Major League Baseball has hit the first major test of its plan to carry out a shortened season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league is postponing Monday night’s games between the Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles at Marlins Park and the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees at Citizens Bank Park while it conducts additional COVID-19 testing after multiple Marlins players reportedly tested positive over the weekend.
“The members of the Marlins’ traveling party are self-quarantining in place while awaiting the outcome of those results,” MLB said in a statement. “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.”
The Marlins opened the season with a three-game series against the Phillies, but scheduled starter José Ureña was scratched ahead of Sunday’s contest as reports came out that multiple players had tested positive. Following Sunday’s game, the team delayed its flight home over concerns of an outbreak.
According to the Philly Inquirer, however, Marlins players decided via group text that they wanted to move forward with playing the game. “We knew that this would happen at some point,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “We came to the ballpark and we were ready to play. That was never our thought that we weren’t going to play.”
As of Monday morning, the number of positive cases within the Marlins organization had reached 14, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported. Eleven of those who tested positive are reportedly players.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter released a statement saying that postponing the home opener is “the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to grasp the totality of this situation.”
The Phillies are reportedly quarantining their entire visiting clubhouse staff that was exposed to the Marlins and awaiting test results.
Before Monday’s game was postponed, the Yankees brought their own clubhouse staff to Philadelphia and were told that the visiting clubhouse had been “completely disinfected several times,” according to ESPN’s Marly Rivera.
Under MLB’s agreement for the 2020 season, Commissioner Rob Manfred has the jurisdiction to suspend or cancel the season due to an outbreak, raising questions as to why he did not take action ahead of Sunday’s Marlins-Phillies games.