Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has no plans to cancel or pause the recently begun 2020 season despite multiple Florida Marlins testing positive for COVID-19, CBS Sports reported. The 61-year-old lawyer-turned-baseball executive addressed team owners on a weekly conference call Monday afternoon that included no talk of a cancellation or contingency plan of any kind should the virus continue to spread to other clubs.
Manfred and the owners instead emphasized the idea of doubling down on previously directed health guidelines such as no high-fives or handshakes, no spitting, and for players and staff alike to wear face coverings at all times while in the dugouts.
The call came at a sensitive time for the MLB, just a few hours after news broke that eleven Marlins players and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19 just after their opening weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies wrapped up, as The Inquisitr previously reported. The result was the cancelation of two games Monday evening; the Marlins’ home opener against the Baltimore Orioles, and the Phillies’ home field matchup against the New York Yankees.
Manfred appears to be taking the situation both one day and one team at a time, refusing to hit the panic button too soon on an already shortened season. However, he did acknowledge the competitive hurdles an organization would have to face if a substantial number of its members became infected in a radio interview with The Dan Patrick Show earlier this month.
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.
Manfred went on to say in that same interview that the MLB would be “lucky” to be able to get all of their scheduled games in, even after it was shortened down from 162 to just 60 ballgames.
The current agreement between the league and players union does not include specific guidelines as to what would prompt a shutdown or postponement in a scenario such as this one, so the discretion to enact one falls almost solely on the plate of Manfred. After accepting the job in 2015 following the retirement of Bud Selig, this is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges that Manfred has taken on in his role as league’s top executive.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price, who opted out of the abbreviated season for health concerns, blasted Manfred this afternoon on Twitter for how he has handled the virus so far, claiming that he decided not to play this year because he felt player’s health wasn’t being put first, and believes that still to be the case.