Major League Baseball has a COVID-19 problem on its hands.
The league has postponed two games after at least 14 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the weekend. So, naturally, questions about the future of the 2020 season arose.
During an appearance on Monday’s episode of MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight,” commissioner Rob Manfred told Tom Verducci the league’s top concern is the health of players and their respective families while doing “everything possible to minimize the spread” of COVID-19. And while he thinks the league’s protocols have worked “pretty well” to this point, the Marlins’ situation certainly isn’t ideal.
But is there a point where MLB would feel compelled to shut down in part or in full?
“There is certainly both,” Manfred said. “I mean, I think that a team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change, whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season — that depends on the circumstances. Same thing with respect to league-wide. You know, you get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point.”
That said, Manfred said major league owners did not ask about pausing, or even canceling, the season during their weekly call Monday.
“We talked about the situation, and I think most of the owners realize that we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season, that the protocols were built in order to allow us to continue to play through those positives,” Manfred said. “And I think there was support for the notion that we believe that the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe.”
And while some might consider the Marlins’ scenario the league’s “worst nightmare,” Manfred didn’t categorize it as such.
“I mean, obviously we don’t want any player to get exposed,” Manfred said. “… I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players and we think we can keep people safe an continue to play.”
Watch Commissioner Manfred's entire interview with Tom Verducci on MLB Tonight. pic.twitter.com/oAyJ1NoEyk
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Manfred said the Marlins will be permitted to resume play against the Orioles in Baltimore on Wednesday so long as additional testing produces “acceptable” results.