PHOENIX — Major League Baseball, resuming spring training Friday, announced that 31 players and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19 as part of intake screening. .
The figure was surprisingly low – just 1.2% of the 3,185 total samples collected and tested, according to the league
“It will be encouraging if we can keep that to that level,’’ Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said. “It’s going to be on all of us to do our best to do that. Just because we get through the quarantine, just because we pass multiple tests doesn’t mean behaviors can go back to normal. It means practicing social distancing, even when we’re at the field, being mindful of where you are in space, wearing a mask all of the time.
“It’s going to be on all of us. What are we doing at night? Going home, and being mindful when we go out to the grocery store and things like that, that we’re still practicing those behaviors. I think that’s what it’s going to require for us to stay safe through the season.’’
Teams are not permitted to identify the players who tested positive for COVID-19, but two players, Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians and Brett Martin of the Texas Indians each revealed their positive tests. Any player who tests positive for COVID-19 must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart from one another, with no fever for 72 hours, before he can rejoin a team.
“At this point the only thing he has is diminished sense of taste and smell,” Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “But other than that he's doing well... He wanted us to just assure everyone he’s doing well and looking forward to getting out here when he's able to travel.”
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The key for everyone’s safety is to be cautious as possible, says reigning AL MVP Mike Trout, who hopes that his teammates don’t frequent restaurants on the road.
“I don’t get why you can leave the hotel room on the road to get dinner at a restaurant,’’ Trout said. “That’s just putting yourself at risk, I think. I’m strongly against that. It’s 30 games on the road. Just stay in your hotel room and just do as much as you can inside the hotel, so you don’t get out and get the virus.’’
Angels manager Joe Maddon had a call with 120 members of the Angels organization Thursday night stressing the importance of everyone staying responsible.
“Every organization really needs to tighten up their bubble,’’ Maddon says, “and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re asking you to be the best version of yourself and be the best teammate you’ve ever been in your life. We need you to follow the protocols and for you to be the best teammate ever.’’
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward says that every team is going to have positive cases, but the key is to minimize all contact. The Boston Red Sox even used suites at Fenway Park for their players to dress in hoping to maintain social distancing.
“We’re not going to be able to go out to bars,’’ Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said “That puts your teammates at risk. That puts family members at risk. We have high-risk teammates. We have high-risk family members at home. That would be an extremely selfish move on their part.’’
So, the show will go on, well, at least try to go on, until the coronavirus tells us it can’t.
“I don't feel entirely comfortable with the idea of doing this,’’ Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Charlie Morton said, “but I don't know how long we're supposed to sit in our homes and wait to make a decision about our careers."