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MLB’s first round of coronavirus testing shows low positivity rate

MLB’s first round of coronavirus testing shows low positivity rate

An enormous question hovered over the first day of workouts across Major League Baseball on Friday: who would test positive for coronavirus?

The league and MLBPA jointly released the first round of testing results late Friday. They are encouraging. But also just one step.

Only 38 individuals -- 31 players and seven staff members -- tested positive out of 3,185 samples collected and tested. That’s a 1.2 percent positivity rate, well below the recently surging national average of 7.4 percent, according to John Hopkins University.

No one on the Nationals has tested positive yet, according to Davey Martinez. Across the league, 19 of the 30 teams had an individual test positive in the first round of results.

Three players in the Nationals’ original 60-man player pool have opted not to play this season. Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross decided earlier in the week to sit out. Veteran catcher Welington Castillo chose later in the week to stay in the Dominican Republic instead of play.

RELATED: WELINGTON CASTILLO OPTS OUT OF 2020 MLB SEASON

“I didn’t talk to Welington,” Mike Rizzo said Friday. “He spoke to Davey and one of our assistant GMs. But I had a long conversation with Zim. Those are tough decisions, kind of courageous decisions in my mind. The easy path is to try to grind it out and take your chances. But these two guys, Joe and Zim, felt it wasn’t worth the risk. We support both of them. These decisions were tough for them. We certainly didn’t try to talk them out of it, by any way, shape or form. We supported them greatly and admire them for it, because these were tough decisions.”

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The tests, results and reactions will be a daily chore for the league from now until the postseason -- if there is one -- concludes. And, a much more complicated scenario begins with the season on July 23. The league is attempting a travel plan no other sport has remotely considered. But, the first-day returns are positive thanks to the amount of those testing negative.

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Major League Baseball finally has a deal to return

Major League Baseball finally has a deal to return

Major League Baseball and the MLBPA landed on a deal Tuesday night to start the 2020 season July 1. The report date, dozens of adjustments, and the health protocol have all been worked out following perpetual verbal combat that lasted three months.

“All remaining issues have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps,” the MLBPA said in a statement at 8:41 p.m.

Agreeing on an extensive health protocol was the last step toward a start. The league reportedly will assemble a schedule in the next 72 hours. Then, everyone assembles to start a process with an unknown end and multiple remaining questions.

At the least, the sides have finally finished three months of unproductive talks, public bickering, and sigh-inducing back-and-forth. Baseball’s conduct during negotiations was anything but appealing. The sides dug in and never found a deal. Tuesday’s work was based in the March 26 agreement which allowed Commissioner Rob Manfred to implement a season if no deal was reached. He did. The players answered his demand for a response on health protocols and a commitment to the July 1 report date by the end of Tuesday evening. Finally, the basics were resolved.

RELATED: NEW 2020 MLB TIMELINE

As is standard, pitchers and catchers will report first. Three weeks of spring training will allow pitchers to make four starts. It’s an important timeline to players.

Spring training will take place at home ballparks following coronavirus spikes in Arizona and Florida. The Nationals never went back to their West Palm Beach facility after it was shuttered in late March and turned into a coronavirus testing center.

The 60-game season will focus on division play and interleague matchups with regional opponents. The Nationals will play the American League East, for instance. They were originally scheduled to play the American League West in 2020.

An Aug. 31 trade deadline is also part of the equation, according to multiple reports.

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Major League Baseball will be trying to pull off what no other league is attempting: travel during a pandemic. Cutting travel to just regional opponents is an attempt at minimizing the massive complications of going from place to place for this truncated season. It’s also in-line with everything about baseball’s restart: there is no guarantee of anything. Only mitigation attempts.

Chances of players opting out still looms. Challenges with taxi squads and running spring training are in the mix. Dozens of other logistical headaches are coming.

However, MLB is done with the gigantic haggling of prior months. Spring training starts in eight days. From there, anything -- good and bad -- is possible.

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Here's a look at the reported MLB timeline for the 2020 season

Here's a look at the reported MLB timeline for the 2020 season

Major League Baseball is on the verge of finalizing plans to get a 60-game season started the weekend of July 24th. With a season presumably on the horizon (finally), rules have started to be made public -- Thanks, Jayson Stark.

Here are the details reported thus far.

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • Friday, June 26: Transactions freeze ends at noon ET
  • Sunday, June 28: Teams must submit 60-man player pool names by 3 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday, July 1: Teams report to Training Camp 2.0
  • Friday, July 24: New Opening Day
  • Monday, August 31: Trade deadline (usually July 31)
  • Tuesday, September 15: Players must be on big league roster to be eligible for postseason

RELATED: MLB, PLAYERS AGREE TO 60-GAME SEASON PER REPORTS

OTHER NOTES:

  • Normal active rosters are 26 players however, that will be expanded to 30 to start the year with gradual decreases every two weeks.
  • Teams will be able to add and subtract players from their active rosters using a player pool for 60 players (which includes minor leaguers). 
  • The active roster will add three additional taxi cab spots for road games consisting of three nonroster players but in the player pool. 

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