The return of Major League Baseball took a troubling turn on Monday when the league’s worst fear became reality: an outbreak of positive coronavirus tests within a team.
The Miami Marlins will not play their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday after learning that 14 members of the team — 12 players and two coaches — have tested positive for the virus. The outbreak, first reported by ESPN, was confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of the test results who was granted anonymity because the league and the team had not made an official announcement.
The Marlins were scheduled to fly home Sunday night from Philadelphia, where they played three weekend games against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. They played the final game after learning that four players had tested positive, but Manager Don Mattingly told reporters later that the team “never really considered not playing.”
The Phillies’ home game on Monday against the Yankees was also called off, according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision.
After the Marlins’ game Sunday, Mattingly told reporters that the Marlins had postponed their trip home until Monday rather than return Sunday night.
As games began for most teams on Friday, M.L.B. announced that only six of 10,939 samples it had conducted that week (or .05 percent) had been new positives. But most, if not all, of those tests had been conducted while teams were training at their home parks, before traveling to road sites.
The league is attempting to stage a 60-game season using 30 stadiums across the United States, including a Class AAA park in Buffalo for the Toronto Blue Jays, who were barred from playing home games by the Canadian federal government.
In early July, Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested on “The Dan Patrick Show” that an outbreak on a team could threaten the season.
“The way that I think about it, Dan, is in the vein of competitive integrity, in a 60-game season,” Manfred said. “If we have a team or two that’s really decimated with a number of people who had the virus and can’t play for any significant period of time, it could have a real impact on the competition, and we’d have to think very, very hard about what we’re doing.”
James Wagner contributed reporting.