After postponing games in Philadelphia and Miami tonight because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins, Major League Baseball will rely on rapid testing protocols to decide its next steps.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ home game tonight against the New York Yankees was postponed because Phillies players may have been exposed to the virus while playing the Marlins Sunday. Phillies players and staff are being tested today, with results expected by tonight. In addition to its primary testing lab in Utah, MLB also is using a lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey, which in this case can provide a quicker turnaround.
After eight Marlins players tested positive Sunday the team remained in Philadelphia following its win over the Phillies Sunday rather than flying to Miami. The Marlins were scheduled to play the Orioles in Miami Monday and Tuesday, followed by games in Baltimore Wednesday and Thursday. With the Marlins in Philadelphia, the games in Miami could be rescheduled for Baltimore as part of a four-game series in which Miami would bat as the home team in two of them.
With teams scheduled to play 60 games in 66 days, postponed games could be made up as part of doubleheaders. The Marlins will draw from among their 60-man player pool to replace players on the COVID-19 list. Teams travel with a three-man taxi squad (including one catcher) for when such contingencies happen on the road.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter released a statement that read in part, “After a successful Spring 2.0, we have now experienced challenges once we went on the road and left Miami. Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred told SI on the eve of Opening Day that the regular season schedule would present safety challenges that the training camps did not.
“I think the next phase where we’re going to be doing more travel is concerning,” Manfred said. “I want to be clear about one thing: that our [health] experts really see the actual travel as safe the way we are doing it. It’s the moving where there is risk. You’re going from one risk environment to another.”