The Miami Marlins' season has officially been paused after 17 members of the organization - 15 players and two staff members - have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it has postponed all of the Marlins’ games through Sunday and reshuffled the schedules of four teams - Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles - in a corresponding move. Here’s an oversimplification: The Yankees will travel to Baltimore for a two-game series against the Orioles on Wednesday and Thursday. The Phillies will resume play against the Blue Jays on Friday and the Nationals - who were slated to face the Marlins in Miami this weekend - will be off until next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Marlins won’t return to play until Monday (or possibly even Tuesday) at the earliest, if at all. The situation is evolving and changing rapidly, but they’re scheduled for the moment to open a three-game series at home against the Phillies next Tuesday. If they’re able to restart on Tuesday, they will be forced to play their remaining 57 games over a span of just 55 days, which likely means several doubleheaders and leaves open the possibility that they won’t end up playing out their full slate. The schedule fallout and roster implications are a bit overwhelming to consider, but they aren’t the main concerns at this exact moment, with the health and safety of everyone in the Marlins organization taking precedence for the next few days.
Major League Baseball’s announcement to pause the Marlins season came just a few hours after Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the vast majority of Nationals players voted against playing a series versus the Marlins in Miami this weekend. It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that MLB’s truncated 60-game campaign is at a crossroads right now. It’s completely fair to wonder whether it’s safe to play baseball in the midst of a global pandemic, with positive cases continuing to increase across the majority of the United States. A massive uptick in positive cases or similar outbreaks in multiple clubhouses across the league would seemingly put the viability of continuing a season in serious jeopardy. However, for the moment, the outbreak appears to be limited to the Marlins clubhouse. “In over 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, July 24th, there have been no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 clubs,” MLB revealed in a press release on Tuesday afternoon. “This outcome is in line with encouraging overall data since the June 27th start of testing. Through last Thursday, July 23rd, 99 of the 32,640 samples - 0.3 percent - had been positive.”
Perhaps the most startling development from the entire Marlins ordeal was the revelation that Marlins players - without any input or guidance from medical professionals - reportedly made the decision to play against the Phillies last weekend, even after multiple players had tested positive. That incident reveals a stunning lack of oversight, leadership and clear guidance from the league itself. Even with a renewed emphasis on wearing masks in all team settings and strict enforcement of social distancing guidelines, it seems almost impossible that teams will be able to prevent additional positive tests over the next two months. The central question, which may ultimately determine whether the regular season is further imperiled, revolves around whether Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are willing to adopt new policies that provide clearer guidance for teams on how to proceed, especially in regards to playing games or traveling, in the event that there is a potential outbreak in a clubhouse.
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American League Quick Hits: Gerrit Cole will make his next start Wednesday against the Orioles. … Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery are lined up to start against the Red Sox this weekend. … Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday that Aroldis Chapman (COVID-19) is "doing well." … Rangers placed Corey Kluber on the 45-day injured list. The 34-year-old righty suffered a Grade 2 strain of the teres major muscle in his shoulder during his Rangers debut last Sunday. He'll be shut down for the next four weeks and will return as a reliever if he is able to return at all. … Bo Bichette (hamstring) remained out of the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Tuesday. … An MRI taken Monday on Ken Giles' right arm showed a strained forearm. He will be shut down for the time being as he awaits a second opinion. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo declined to speculate how long his closer might be sidelined. Anthony Bass will continue to fill in as the team's primary ninth-inning option. … White Sox manager Rick Renteria (illness) hasn't been cleared to rejoin the team. He came down with a slight cough and nasal congestion on Monday, but has tested negative for COVID-19. … White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing told reporters on Tuesday that Eloy Jimenez (head) fully participated in baseball activities on Tuesday, but is still being monitored and should be considered day-to-day. … According to multiple reports, the Astros have picked up the 2021 option on manager Dusty Baker’s contract and are closing in on a deal with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney. … Astros GM James Click said Tuesday that Yordan Alvarez (undisclosed) could soon advance to live batting practice. … Orioles manager Brandon Hyde confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that lefty John Means (arm) is lined up to make his season debut on Thursday. … Anthony Rendon launched a two-run homer and scored a pair of runs in his Angels debut against the Mariners on Tuesday. The 30-year-old third baseman missed the first four games of the regular season due to a minor oblique injury. … Aaron Civale allowed two earned runs over six innings while striking out nine in a win over the White Sox. … Ji-Man Choi was removed from Tuesday's game against the Braves due to right shoulder soreness. … Angels placed SS Andrelton Simmons on the 10-day injured list with a left ankle sprain and activated INF Luis Rengifo. … Royals placed LHP Mike Montgomery (lat strain) and RHP Foster Griffin on the 10-day injured list and also signed RHP Matt Harvey to a minor-league contract. … Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes has joined the Royals ownership group.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals manager Davey Martinez said Tuesday that Juan Soto (COVID-19) has received back-to-back negative tests from MLB's labs and is now just waiting to be officially cleared. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday that Clayton Kershaw (back) is a “possibility” to start Friday versus the Diamondbacks. … Cardinals placed Miles Mikolas on the 10-day injured list. The 31-year-old right-hander is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on the flexor tendon in his right arm. … Tommy Pham was removed from Tuesday night’s game against the Giants due to an apparent groin injury. … Josh Lindblom was removed from his Brewers debut Tuesday against the Pirates due to back cramps. … Merrill Kelly recorded seven strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings in a win over the Rangers … Christian Yelich went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts against the Pirates. … Carlos Martinez was blasted for six earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings Tuesday in a loss to the Twins. … Javier Baez homered twice and doubled to propel the Cubs to a win over the Reds. … Brett Anderson (blister) will be activated from the injured list and make his Brewers debut on Friday versus the Cardinals … Dodgers placed Alex Wood on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation. … Jose Quintana (thumb) is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on Wednesday. … Cardinals activated Giovanny Gallegos from the 10-day injured list. … Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters Tuesday that Travis d'Arnaud and Tyler Flowers could join the team for Wednesday's home opener. … Reds placed Robert Stephenson (back strain) on the 10-day injured list and activated Tucker Barnhart from the paternity list. … Marlins claimed RHP Mike Morin off waivers from the Brewers. … Mets signed C Bruce Maxwell to a minor-league contract.