The Phillies released a statement Friday afternoon in response to Jim Salisbury's report that five players and three staff members in Clearwater had tested positive for COVID-19.
Their spring training complex in Clearwater has been closed for the time being.
"In response to published reports and the questions that those reports have raised, the Phillies are confirming that 5 players and 3 staff members working at the club’s Clearwater facility have tested positive for Covid-19.
"The first confirmed case occurred this past Tuesday, June 16. In addition, 8 staff members have tested negative for the virus, while 12 staff members and 20 players (both major league and minor league players) living in the Clearwater area are in the process of being tested and are awaiting the results of those tests.”
Managing partner John Middleton wrote the following:
"The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority, and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected."
The Phillies have declined comment on the implications of the outbreak, saying it's too early to know.
The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin on Thursday. The Blue Jays' facility is six miles away from the Phillies'.
The Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., after a player exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 19, 2020
Dunedin is just up the road from Clearwater, where eight people in the Philadelphia Phillies organization tested positive.
Pending a financial agreement with the players' association, MLB had sought to restart spring training at some point next week, between June 26-28. That date doesn't look as realistic now.