Major League Baseball’s season is less than a week old, but one team has already experienced a coronavirus outbreak that will sideline a chunk of its roster and has caused a game to be canceled. The Miami Marlins, who had four players test positive during their opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies, had an additional seven players (as well as a few coaches) test positive on Monday, less than 12 hours before they were supposed to play their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles, per CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden.
The Marlins have had at least 14 individuals become infected over the last several days, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan. In response to the outbreak, the Marlins game against the Orioles on Monday night will not be played, Baltimore GM Mike Elias confirmed. The Phillies, who hosted the Marlins over the weekend at Citizens Bank Park, also had their Monday night game vs. the Yankees postponed.
MLB issued the following statement:
Tonight’s scheduled 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 have been postponed while Major League Baseball conducts additional COVID-19 testing. The members of the Marlins’ traveling party are self-quarantining in place while awaiting the outcomes of those results. 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.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter also released a statement saying postponing Monday night’s game was “the correct decision.” Jeter added that the team will remain in Philadelphia until it receives another round of test results, which are expected back on Monday.
Here are four additional things to know about this story.
Who has been affected?
Four individuals consented to allow the Marlins to disclose their positive test ahead of Monday’s news: Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielders Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez, and pitcher Jose Urena, who was scratched prior to his Sunday start.
Where are the Marlins, Orioles?
The Marlins have not left Philadelphia. They were scheduled to depart on Sunday evening, after the game, but changed their plans to leave on Monday. That flight did not take off, however.
The Orioles, meanwhile, do appear to be in Miami. Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. tweeted that the plane was departing on Sunday night. That tracks with the normal operating procedures that see teams arrive the night prior rather than the morning of games.
Are the Phillies at risk of a similar outbreak?
Because the Marlins almost certainly had individuals who tested positive playing in games over the weekend, it’s fair to wonder if the Phillies might be at risk of a similar outbreak.
Based on what is known about COVID-19, the highest risk for infection is spending prolonged time in closed or poorly ventilated areas with large crowds and in an intimate fashion. In other words, playing a baseball game outside with (mostly) fleeting contact does not seem like a situation that should engender transmission from one individual to another — at least not on another team.
The Athletic talked to a pair of infectious-disease experts who agreed that the likelihood of transmission from the Marlins to the Phillies was “low.” Of course, “low” doesn’t mean zero, and Phillies players (and Yankees players, if they are asked to dress in the same clubhouse as the Marlins did) are right to be nervous about the situation at hand.
Will the season be canceled?
This is an unknowable question at this point, in part because there are no clear guidelines on what would trigger the season to be scrapped. Again, as The Athletic noted, the decision is in the hands of commissioner Rob Manfred, and him alone.
Ostensibly, if the season remains in place, then more players could opt-out rather than expose themselves and their loved ones to the potential for a similar outbreak in their clubhouse.