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Rob Manfred Says MLB Season Won't Shut Down Amid COVID-19 Outbreak: 'It Is Manageable'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the 2020 season will not shut down amid the league's COVID-19 outbreak.

"We are playing," Manfred told ESPN's Karl Ravech. "The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable."

The commissioner backtracked from his earlier stance on the outbreak. On Friday, Manfred reportedly told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark that if the sport didn't improve its handling of the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season. Multiple players briefed on the Friday call feared that the season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive COVID-19 tests continue around baseball, according to ESPN.

In the last week, 18 Marlins players and two coaches have tested positive for the coronavirus following their weekend series against the Phillies. MLB postponed Miami's games through Sunday and rearranged the schedules of the Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays. Since then, two Phillies staff members also tested positive for COVID-19.

MLB's coronavirus crisis continued as this weekend's Brewers-Cardinals series has been derailed due to multiple St. Louis members testing positive for COVID-19. Friday's game was rescheduled as a doubleheader on Sunday after two Cardinals players tested positive, and Saturday's matchup reportedly was postponed when four additional members—one player and three staffers—also tested positive.

After the string of positive tests, Marlins second baseman Isan Díaz and Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain announced Saturday that they will opt out of the remainder of the season. Díaz was not among the Marlins players who tested positive for the virus.

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reported Friday that MLB's Department of Investigations is expected to finish a report on the origins of the Marlins' outbreak in the next few days. According to Verducci, a source familiar with the investigation characterized the initial information as leading to "clearly a breakdown with adherence to the health and safety protocols away from the ballpark."