The White Sox have experienced no positive tests for COVID-19 among players or staffers, according to general manager Rick Hahn.
Hahn cautioned that the team hasn't started its intake of tests ahead of the second round of spring training, which begins July 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field. He said that process will begin this weekend. A pool of 60 players, from which the White Sox will build a 30-man Opening Day roster and a taxi squad of players available for in-season roster moves, will report to the South Side.
"Thus far, we’ve had nothing with any of the staff members or players that are coming to be part of the 60-man pool," Hahn said Thursday.
Hahn added that there were no positive tests over the past few months at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. Some players worked out at the team's spring training facility after spring training was halted in March. Arizona is now experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 infections.
While things can obviously change in a hurry — the coronavirus pandemic has made that abundantly clear — it's good news for the White Sox for now.
Other major league teams have not been so fortunate, with players from numerous clubs testing positive in recent days. Four teams experienced positive tests just last Friday alone, spurring Major League Baseball to shut the doors at every spring training facility in Florida and Arizona.
The Philadelphia Phillies experienced an outbreak at their facility in Clearwater, Florida, with eight players and staffers testing positive last week. The Toronto Blue Jays experienced their own outbreak in Dunedin, Florida.
It's not limited to spring training sites, either, with three Colorado Rockies, including All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon, testing positive after working out at Coors Field in Denver. The Minnesota Twins announced Thursday that multiple players had tested positive, none of whom were working out at team facilities.
Positive tests across baseball show how steep the league's challenge is when it comes to staging a safe 2020 season played in the middle of a pandemic. Outside the walls of major league stadiums, where it will be mostly on the players themselves to take precautions, the number of COVID-19 infections is on the rise in many states, including several that are home to major league teams.
The White Sox play in Illinois, where the number of cases is not rising dramatically, as it is in states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas. But players will be returning to Chicago from all over the country, and in some cases from other countries. For example, Edwin Encarnacion was working as part of coronavirus relief efforts in his native Dominican Republic earlier this year.
The league plans on implementing a flood of preventative measures to limit the spread of the virus, with bans on high fives, Gatorade coolers, hugs and spitting and social-distancing practices on the field, in the clubhouse and in the dugout.
How will the White Sox approach things?
"We are trusting the experts. We are trusting science. We are trusting data and following the lead of experts in the public-health arenas," Hahn said. "Ultimately, we are going to have to respond to how this unfolds from the virus-spread standpoint.
"The health and safety of our players and staff and, ultimately, fans is of the utmost importance. That is going to take precedence, as it has the past several months. There are very specific protocols in place for just about every element of a player or staff member’s day. We are going to adhere to every one of those and adapt and learn the ways to improve over the course of the next weeks and months as the season unfolds.
"But in the end you trust the job that has been done at the league level, the players' association level, the use of experts and science and data. You put your best foot forward in making this work."