6 teams idle: Manfred, union talk as MLB grapples with virus

6 teams idle: Manfred, union talk as MLB grapples with virus

6 teams idle: Manfred, union talk as MLB grapples with virus

MIAMI — With six teams idled Friday by the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to union leader Tony Clark about the importance of players following the sport’s coronavirus protocols.

Manfred and Clark talked about what needs to be done to finish the season, a person familiar with the conversation said. The person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

“Every player in this league better take a hard look at what you’re doing off the field, because what you do affects, more than just you and your team,” Chicago Cubs outfielder Steven Souza Jr. tweeted, hours after the St. Louis-Milwaukee game was called off. “Your decisions off the field will put all of our seasons in jeopardy this year.”

The conversation between Manfred and Clark, first reported by ESPN, comes amid growing evidence that the spread of infection threatens to overtake efforts to play ball.

“Some things aren’t looking too good right now, but we have to play up to that point. Players are seeing what can happen,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said.

“The rest now is up to us and the virus,” he said.

Concerns have been expressed about lax behaviour by players on the field — such as spitting or high-fives — and off. The scrambled schedule has also heightened doubts about whether the owners’ desire to play is realistic.

“Obviously, we saw the message. They sent a memo. Just be more diligent, wear a mask in the dugout when you’re not playing, what we’ve thought to be the rules all along,” Arizona catcher Stephen Vogt said. “So it’s just like every other rule that MLB has for players — now it’s going to be enforced, so to speak. Just strongly encouraging.”

“Everything gets a little bit lax when you get in the game because the habits of what we’ve been doing our whole life takes over. When one of your teammates gets a big hit, you want to high-five them. You want to celebrate the way you’ve always done,” he said. “And the last thing I want to do when I’m trying to play and do my job is be worried about COVID, but that’s the times were in right now.”

The latest game to be postponed was Milwaukee’s home opener against St. Louis, scrapped hours before the first pitch after two Cardinals players tested positive for COVID-19.

“TV Show suggestions please,” tweeted Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, one of an increasing number of players who found themselves with unexpected free time as the postponements mounted.

The Cardinals said in a statement they learned Thursday night about positive tests from samples collected Wednesday. Players and staff were instructed to isolate in their hotel rooms.

“The team is currently conducting rapid testing of the entire travelling party, has implemented contact tracing, and will continue to self-isolate,” the Cardinals said.

The Cardinals and Brewers still hoped to play Saturday night, and to make up Friday’s game with a pair of seven-inning games Sunday under a newly approved MLB plan for doubleheaders.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said baseball is braced for curveballs, especially this year.

“We’re all committed, I believe – and I’ve talked to a number of players today – to finishing the season,” Attanasio said. “Insofar as we can continue to provide some enjoyment for our fans, I think that’s something we’re all committed to doing. … If we’re not smart and safe, then we’ll fail. But we’re doing everything we can not to fail.’’

Two weekend series — Nationals at Marlins, and Blue Jays at Phillies — were called off earlier. The Marlins were hit with a virus outbreak in Philadelphia that infected at least 20 members of their travelling party, and both Miami and the Phillies are sidelined for at least a week.

The schedules of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have also been scrambled a week into a season that had already been delayed and curtailed because of the pandemic, and now may be in jeopardy.

Cleveland players and staff talked about postponing Friday night’s game at Minnesota. The Cardinals had played at Target Field on Wednesday, a day before the Indians arrived.

“We just visited with everybody and just asked them to kind of visit amongst themselves and we would have more information as the day progressed. We met again at 3:30, I think, and it was a go,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Teams all around the majors are keeping tabs on the daily developments.

“That’s a concern of mine,” said Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who was out with the virus earlier. “I speak for the entire Rockies team — we want to go out and play. … Anything that pops up negatively, in terms of this virus situation, could hinder that. So yeah, I’m concerned. I would rather not see any more positive cases.”

The six idled teams Friday represented 20% of MLB.

“I don’t think there’s a person that thought that this would be seamless,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “We are being as safe as we possibly can, but we also understand that this virus is very strong and doesn’t have borders.”

For the week ending Thursday, MLB said there were 29 positive tests, a rate of 0.2%. Aside from the Marlins, there were eight positive tests for the 29 other teams, only two involved major league players.

The Marlins received another positive test result, a person familiar with the situation said, and at least 18 of their players have been infected.

The person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made, said none of the Marlins has shown serious symptoms. But officials were concerned that the latest positive test result came five days after the team was last together and played its most recent game.

The person said the infected Marlins left Philadelphia in sleeper buses Friday for an 18-hour trip to Miami, where they will remain together in quarantine.

The rest of the team will spend the weekend in isolation in Philadelphia, where the Marlins have been stranded since their outbreak began. It’s uncertain when or where they will next play.

The Phillies have also been idle since Sunday. One Phils coach and two clubhouse workers tested positive this week, but the team received no positive results Friday.

Fans rooted for baseball to keep going, as did some businesses. In Milwaukee, J&B’s Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill was hoping for one of its biggest crowds since the pandemic began, with customers watching the home opener as it was played down the street.

Co-owner Jon Bliesner took news of the postponement hard.

“Really depressing,” Bliesner said. “Not happy at all.”

___

AP Sports Writers Jay Cohen in Chicago, Pat Graham in Denver, Ian Harrison in Toronto, Steve Megargee in Milwaukee, David Brandt in Phoenix, Joe Reedy in Anaheim, California, and Jake Seiner in New York, and AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker in New York contributed to this report.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Steven Wine, The Associated Press

Baseball

 

6 teams idle: Manfred, union talk as MLB grapples with virus

6 teams idle: Manfred, union talk as MLB grapples with virus

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

File photo
Sylvan Lake NexSource Centre reopens Monday

As part of the provincial reopening plan, the recreation facility is able to open to the public

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Most Read