It’s no big deal, Cubs manager David Ross said.
But pushing back the team’s workout schedule Tuesday because of another delay in MLB’s coronavirus testing processes didn’t do anything to ease concerns or calm nerves anywhere in baseball after several days of lags, lapses and breakdowns in early testing.
The Cubs eventually got the results of Sunday’s round of COVID-19 tests Tuesday afternoon, and all came back negative, the club said — the Cubs still the only team in the league without a positive test among players.
Even before that, Ross said the scheduled adjustment was made out of a sense of caution and to help put players and staff at ease during a high-anxiety time for all of them.
“I just wanted the players to feel good about coming in,” Ross said, “and once we get this on track and adjust [after] what happened last week, it’ll just put us in a better place rather than bringing guys in and being unsure. It was just better to wait on our end.”
The turnaround of results of intake testing has been a problem around the league, causing the Astros and Nationals to cancel workouts Monday and teams such as the A’s to put off conducting full-squad practices at all.
MLB in a statement Monday blamed the July 4 holiday for some of the delays and promised to fix the glitches quickly as players across baseball — including Cubs star Kris Bryant — blasted the league for failing to deliver on its baseline safety promise of frequent testing and quick results.
MLB statement on testing fiasco: pic.twitter.com/CFOfG38oEp— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) July 6, 2020
“I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable,” said Bryant, who considered opting out of playing this season with a newborn at home. “But, honestly, I don’t feel that way.”
The Cubs were scheduled for another round of tests Tuesday. And their second workout site, in South Bend, has experienced more significant delays in getting started because of testing issues.
“This isn’t a huge deal,” Ross said of what the larger group at Wrigley Field dealt with Tuesday. “It seems a little bit bigger with what’s been going on with some teams the last day or so.
“We have to have a little bit of patience,” he added. “We can’t just crush MLB because this is new to them, too, and the testing facility. … I just urge patience with everybody. They’ve assured me that things are getting on the right track and this is just a couple-hour pushback. It’s not a huge deal.”
Actually, MLB deserves any crushing it gets from anybody on this. The league had months to arrange for high-capacity testing and weeks to know how much testing would be needed and how fast it would have to be turned around.
And just how important that minimal safety precaution was to make this ramp-up and season possible was on full display daily during the last several weeks with constant reports of the alarming surges of COVID-19 cases across the country.
Bryant said Monday he believes MLB “absolutely” rushed the health-protocol part of the final agreement with the union to play, compared to the economic side of negotiations.
The Cubs are the only team in at least the National League without a known positive test so far, and Tuesday’s delay was the first since the team opened camp Friday.
“Guys look good. They’re in a good place physically,” Ross said. “We’re trying to keep them in a good place mentally. That’s the challenge in all this. You hear guys’ comments. You hear them speaking out. But they’re still showing up and getting really good work in.”
But nobody knows how deep the anxieties run each player, in this camp or any other in baseball. And through all his conversations with players, Ross admits he can’t know if anyone will yet decide to opt out and go home.
“This is a daily process we’re going through,” he said. “You’re waiting on the test results, and even myself, you have a little bit of anxiety the night before when you’re waiting on these test results to come in. That’s the world we’re living in right now.
“It’s extremely daunting mentally on the players, and they have to perform and get work in on top of the [concerns].”
He said for now he’s not concerned about any Cubs opting out.
“But that could change within a day,” he quickly added. “That’s where we’re at in the world and in the world of baseball.”