Here we go again.
Another day of delayed and pending coronavirus tests. Another six Cubs sit out workouts and a scrimmage as a precaution.
Another reason to doubt whether Major League Baseball can shore up the minimum, baseline safety expectation it promised — timely testing — to pull off a 60-game season that involves teams traveling to and from 30 different locations for nine weeks.
“Yeah, I think some more players will opt out,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said Wednesday as the Cubs and other teams adjusted to yet another day of last-minute personnel and scheduling adjustments because MLB’s every-other-day testing process continues to produce gaps, delays and flaws with results.
“There’s definitely a level of fire drill some mornings,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
Neither Ross nor Rizzo pointed fingers at MLB or anyone else, Ross again pointing out this is a first-in-history undertaking. And both said they expected the system to improve.
But to Rizzo’s original point, as each day of training camp passes through the hourglass toward next week’s openers without a solution so, too, it seems more players are likely to pass on playing at all.
Thirteen already have opted out, including Giants star Buster Posey and former Cy Young winners David Price and Felix Hernandez — none of those with a pre-existing condition that puts him at higher risk.
Many other high-profile players throughout the majors, including Angels superstar Mike Trout and the Cubs’ Yu Darvish say they haven’t ruled out joining the 13, depending on what they see from health and safety conditions as this progresses.
“We didn’t sign up for these bad protocols as far as testing,” said Rizzo, already sidelined with a bad back. “The biggest thing for us is the safety.
“Listen, we are in a pandemic. We are all at risk,” he added. “We all want to play baseball because that’s what we love to do, and we have an opportunity to bring joy to a lot of people that are home, through these tough times.
“But we are all human. If guys start testing positive left and right and this gets out of control, I’m sure you’ll see some guys opt out.”
Darvish said over the weekend that he was prepared to go home if he didn’t like what he saw from a safety standpoint with the Cubs — who so far have been the only team in the league yet to have a player test positive since intake testing.
But he also said, “I’m still concerned.” And it’s hard to imagine that continued delays and uncertainties within the testing process will ease that concern as teams begin to travel out of their bubbles next week.
“Credit to all of our guys for the most part coming in and staying safe,” Rizzo said. “Obviously you can’t control [everything]. You go pick up something at the grocery store and you get it, you can’t control that. But being as safe as you can away [from the park is key].
“Generally, a lot of people want to play, and that’s what we want to do, and it’s just about staying safe.”