Major League Baseball temporarily suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday because of their worsening coronavirus outbreak, and the three remaining games in this week’s New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies series were postponed.
In a statement Tuesday, MLB said it wanted to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and plan for a resumption of play early next week.
The Marlins remained stranded in Philadelphia, where they played last weekend. The Phillies-Yankees games through Thursday were postponed “out of an abundance of caution,” MLB said, although no Phillies players have tested positive.
The Marlins received positive test results for four additional players, bringing their total to 15, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person declined to be identified because the results had not been publicly released.
Nine players on the 30-man roster, two taxi squad players, and two staff members tested positive earlier.
The Marlins had been scheduled to play in Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead, the Yankees will play at Baltimore on those days.
Miami’s three home games this weekend against Washington were postponed. Nationals players had voted against making the trip, manager Dave Martinez said.
“We all decided that it was probably unsafe to go there,” Martinez said. “It had nothing to do with the Miami Marlins. It was all about Miami and the state of Florida, this pandemic. They didn’t feel safe.”
The Marlins underwent another round of tests Tuesday morning, as their outbreak raised anew questions about baseball’s attempts to conduct a season.
“This could put it in danger,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”
Fauci made his comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America” before word of the Marlins’ latest test results.
“Major League Baseball — the players, the owners, the managers — have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,” Fauci said. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with the Miami (Marlins).”
Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said players are constantly assessing whether they should keep playing.
“There’s real fear, there’s real anxiety for me, for all my teammates,” Braun said. “I think we’ve found it very difficult to focus on baseball at all the last couple of days.”
MLB said that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives of on-field personnel from any team other than the Marlins.
“The difficult circumstances of one club reinforce the vital need to be diligent with the protocols in all ways, both on and off the field,” MLB said.
In Cleveland, Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria returned to the team Tuesday after awakening with some COVID-19 symptoms a day earlier and being isolated for 24 hours.
And everyone in baseball seemed to be feeling uneasy.
“It’s important that we are able to provide a source of entertainment and an outlet for people who are dealing with such a challenging time in their lives,” Braun said. “But at the same time, the health and safety should be the top priority for all of us at all times. …
“You think about all the hotel employees, bus drivers, pilots, flight attendants, anybody else all the Marlins guys might have come into contact with, and it’s obviously scary.”
The Marlins planned to remain in Philadelphia until at least Wednesday. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it was working with the Marlins and Phillies on contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.
Additional MLB rescheduling during the week of Aug. 3 will be announced later this week. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered up his state to any team needing a place to play.
While baseball battles its logistical challenges, the NBA and NHL are resuming their seasons in bubble environments, with basketball at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and hockey at Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto.
The NFL has opted not to create a bubble environment as training camps open this week.
“It might be that they have to go in a bubble,” Fauci said, “but I think they’re conscientious enough and want to protect their players and protect the personnel that they will do the right thing.”
AP Sports Writers Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia, Steve Megargee in Milwaukee, Jake Seiner in New York, and Tom Withers in Cleveland and Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
MLB suspends Marlins’ season through weekend amid outbreak