One unnamed player for the Detroit Tigers, as well as one staff member, reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported on Wednesday that the team’s general manager, Al Avila, delivered the news via a video conference with the media. He didn’t divulge the names of either person who tested positive but said they are both “going through the process” of recovery.
Avila didn’t offer many other details about who tested positive. He said the player was not participating in workouts at the Tigers’ spring training facility in Lakeland but was also in Florida. He added the staff member wasn’t part of the baseball operations team. Fenech pointed out that could mean the two never came in direct contact with one another and their infections are separate incidents entirely.
Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report pointed out that full baseball operations have been suspended since early March because of the coronavirus pandemic. In late May, some teams began limited workouts at their spring training facilities because both Florida and Arizona opened back up enough to allow athletic teams to gather and practice. Over the last week, both states have seen infection rates start to go back up and Major League Baseball told teams they needed to close their spring training sites back down.
The Tigers moved their team workouts back to Detroit. Avila told Fenech he thought the team took all the proper steps to keep players and staff members safe and healthy.
“From a safety issue, obviously, after speaking to, MLB’s medical experts’ recommendation, we thought it was proven and the safe thing to do to come back to Detroit,” Avila said. “Our guys, like I said, [manager Ron Gardenhire] and his staff and the front office, came up with a great plan, I thought, and we feel we can make it work really well under the circumstances.”
The news that two members of the Tigers came down with the coronavirus comes one day after MLB announced the owners and players came to an agreement on how to carry out a 2020 season. Included in that agreement were health and safety protocols aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
The agreement means that spring training will resume on July 1 and the regular season is slated to being on July 24. The schedule for the coronavirus-shortened season reportedly has teams playing 40 games in their own division and 20 games in the other league’s geographically similar divisions. That means the Tigers will play 40 times against AL Central rivals and 20 times against the NL Central.
For now, those plans are moving forward despite the Tigers being just the latest team to have at least one player test positive for COVID-19. The Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners have also had members of the franchise test positive in the last few weeks.