Baseball had to postpone a pair of games less than a week into its return, after 14 players and staffers of one team tested positive for COVID-19.
But for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, it didn’t quite reach the level of panic to make him consider shutting down the season.
“I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” Manfred said during an interview on MLB Network, via USA Today. “We don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the expanded pools of additional players. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”
After three players tested positive on Sunday, the Marlins went ahead and played the Phillies that day. Monday, 11 more positive tests came back, leading to the postponements of the Marlins’ games against the Orioles Monday and Tuesday, along with the Phillies’ game against the Yankees last night, as more tests were performed.
Manfred insisted that he thought the season could proceed, saying the plans they built in advance would allow them to move forward safely.
“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change — whether that was shutting down the part of a season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances,” Manfred said. “The same thing with respect to league-wide. You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point. . . .
“We expected we were going to have positives at some point. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to play even through an outbreak like this, and complete our season.”
How they handle it will be worth watching for the NFL, as players report this week for their tests and a modified training camp.