Multiple players and staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic swept through the country in March Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti confirmed Friday.
“We’ve had a few isolated cases,” Antonetti said during a Zoom video conference call with reporters.
“There have been a few from players that have been home – at their home, their houses spread throughout the country, a couple of cases in the Dominican and then a few cases at our Goodyear facility.”
The Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rockies, Dodgers and Twins have all confirmed positive tests with the largest outbreak occurring within Philadelphia’s organization.
“I think what we’ve learned is the virus is still very real and very present,” Antonetti said. “We have to respect that, to the extent that if we let our guard down, that’s going to diminish our chances to be successful.”
The Indians have been able to minimize the spread and avoided a major outbreak according to Antonetti.
“The encouraging thing on that front is all of those cases have been isolated and that there has not been any spread within our environment and thankfully all of those individuals have either recovered or are only showing mild symptoms,” Antonetti said.
Players are expected to arrive from across the country by July 1 for Spring Training 2.0 at Progressive Field and their secondary site at Lake County.
Upon arrival all players and staff will go through extensive screening and testing, as mandated by Major League Baseball.
As a precaution, no one will be permitted access to facilities until they complete the initial testing and the results come back negative.
Regular testing will follow until the season concludes.
“If there is a positive test, they will be quarantined,” Antonetti said.
Players and staff who have underlying heath conditions and are at risk have the option to opt out without penalty.
“We have talked with every high-risk individual,” Antonetti said. “[We had] an individual conversation with them to explain the risks of returning, the protocols that are in place, to ensure health and well-being for everyone and then have given all of them the option of whether or not they would choose to participate.”
As of Friday’s call, Antonetti was unaware of any players who have chosen to opt out but there were a couple of staff members that did.
“We would be supportive if anyone felt that this wasn’t the right environment for them to not participate,” Antonetti said.
Once everyone clears the initial testing and screening process, keeping the team healthy through the duration of the season will be challenging considering the variables out of their control such as an opponent not exhibiting symptoms but eventually testing positive.
The Indians are already doing their part when it comes to protecting themselves according to Antonetti.
“Our players have taken ownership of that,” Antonetti said.
“They see this as an opportunity and a challenge for us to be better than every other team, to the extent that we can do a better job of keeping ourselves healthy and not getting each other sick, the better chance we have to win more games during the season.”