UPDATED: 3:54 p.m.
After the Phillies' first three games of the season, news of a coronavirus outbreak on the Miami Marlins sent both teams into a period of testing and waiting.
On Wednesday afternoon, it was confirmed that one Phillies employee, who works in the visiting clubhouse, tested positive for the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. However, general manager Matt Klentak said all Phillies players and on-field staff tested negative for a second straight day.
“Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week,” the league’s statement said, in part.
“Additional rescheduling during the week of August 3rd will be announced later this week,” MLB’s statement said.
Before Marlins-Nationals in Miami was postponed this weekend, rumors were going around that Washington didn’t want to play. Nats manager Davey Martinez shared that most of their guys were against playing those games as scheduled, but not because of the Marlins. They were concerned about traveling to the city of Miami.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that any game that needs to be played in a different location than originally scheduled can come to his state.
“If you’re having problems playing in other states, come play here,” Cuomo said. “New York state could host any Major League Baseball game that any teams want to play, and they could play those games in our stadiums.”
Whether MLB takes up Cuomo’s offer remains to be seen.
Girardi: ‘We have to be really smart about this’
Putting aside the absolute roller coaster ride this 2020 baseball season has become, safety is without question of the utmost importance. The Marlins outbreak is well into double digits — reportedly as many as 17 members of their organization.
Phils manager Joe Girardi explained to MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM Tuesday morning the level of concern going around.
MLB.com reported the Phils are expected to hold staggered workouts Wednesday and Thursday in South Philadelphia. NBC Sports Philadelphia reported it’s unclear if that will be the case. Both of these reports indicate the Phils will continue daily testing during this time. Before the outbreak, testing was occurring every other day.
Meanwhile, when Girardi was on the radio, Wednesday night’s game at New York had not yet been postponed, so he gave his answers were under the impression the Phils would be on a bus to the Bronx.
The Phillies did not make anyone available to the media on Tuesday despite the postponement of more games. That said, Girardi was in favor of MLB calling off Monday and Tuesday’s contests.
“The incubation period is two to 14 days, and I know we can’t wait 14 days, but I think we have to be really smart about this," he said.
But, what if the games against the Yankees can’t be made up? Girardi wasn’t specifically asked, but he made it clear that if a team plays fewer than 60 games, it's OK.
“I think this could happen more than this one time with an organization,” Girardi said. “And if everyone doesn’t play 60 games, I think that’s all right. We wanna get to the playoffs. That’s the important thing. So, if a team plays 57 games, you go by winning percentage to take the playoff teams, and you go from there.”
As of now, MLB has not made any public statement about how the standings would be calculated if all 30 teams didn’t play 60 regular-season games.
And, if for some reason the Phils found themselves in a compromised situation like they were over the weekend against the Marlins, Girardi said he probably wouldn’t feel comfortable having his team play as they did on Sunday.
“There’s too much at stake when you talk about players, and their health, and their family’s health.”
How will another pause affect the Phillies?
Baseball players are creatures of habit.
Being away from organized baseball activity for several months, and then having to ramp up quickly in three weeks was hard enough. Now, the Phils will go four days without playing a game after taking part in only three official ones, on top of three exhibitions and a handful or so of scrimmages.
From a baseball standpoint, the time off is something to keep an eye on.
What kind of social distancing was this?
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association developed a very extension 100-plus page safety protocol to protect players, coaches and others associated with the baseball season taking place.
Understandably, baseball players have to make a lot of adjustments, and some rather difficult. They can’t high-five. They can’t spit. They can’t lick their fingers. And they need to practice social distancing as much as possible, even while playing.
However, what happened in Houston Tuesday night was the exact opposite of social distancing.
Obviously, there’s history between the Astros and Dodgers with Houston’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Kelly was on the Red Sox that season, who lost to the eventual World Series Champion Astros in the ALDS. Los Angeles fell to them in seven games in the Fall Classic.
As far as the benches clearing, the ruling is simple: not social distancing.