MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark the season could be shut down if there isn't an improved handling of COVID-19, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Friday.
Twenty Miami Marlins — 18 players — have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, and two Cardinals tested positive recently, leading to the postponement of Friday's game against the Brewers. Miami and their last opponent, the Phillies, haven't played since Sunday.
The Phillies were set to return to play Saturday before two people — a coach and home clubhouse member — tested positive. The club shut down all activities at Citizens Bank Park Thursday "until further notice." Fifteen games in total league-wide have been postponed as a result of positive COVID-19 tests.
"It’s definitely in a lot of guys’ minds, that’s for sure, especially with a couple Cardinals guys, the reports of that coming out today," said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo Friday when asked if the season could be in jeopardy if things don't tighten up. "We all want to play and the guys here in our clubhouse, as we get going, know the importance of sticking together and being as prudent as possible away from the field and at the field.
"It’s a little nerve wracking. We say the most normal thing about the day is when we actually play baseball but taking care of all the little things before that with health and safety is top priority as well.
Passan, citing sources, said local and federal governments have pressured the league about players not following protocols as outlined in MLB's extensive operations manual. Those protocols include a ban on spitting and high fives, which players across the league have been seen doing on TV broadcasts.
The Cubs have had zero players test positive for the coronavirus since testing began prior to Summer Camp, but can — and should — all MLB players be more vigilant in following the protocols?
"I think that, with the high fives on the field and winning a game after that, we’re trying to win a championship too," Rizzo said. "When we come inside, [Cubs director of team travel and clubhouse operations Vijay Tekchandani] is the last guy we all high five and he’s got the hand sanitizer ready for us to wipe our hands. It’s a fine line of when the game starts, we’re locked in on trying to win a championship and trying to win every day and doing it smartly as well.
"Can we be better? Absolutely. It’s just one of those things when you really turn that switch on, you start competing and when it really counts, your baseball instincts take over."