Thirty-one Major League Baseball players and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19 during intake for the resumption of training, a rate of 1.2 percent.
MLB and the players’ association announced the results Friday as teams resumed workouts for the first time since the coronavirus interrupted spring training on March 12, two weeks before the season was to start. The positive tests occurred among 19 of the 30 teams, and were drawn from 3,185 samples collected and tested through the first week of intake testing.
Individual players who test positive are not identified by MLB or the union. Cleveland outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. gave the Indians permission to say he tested positive.
“I think he’s getting frustrated because he’s starting to feel better and he wants to get back here,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He seems to be feeling much better, which is good news. There’s just the protocols that you have to follow and he’s going to have to do that, and he understands that.”
MLB and the union established a COVID-19 related injured list with no specific minimum days. There are three reasons specified for placement on that IL: A positive test, exposure to coronavirus or symptoms that require isolation or additional assessment.
Philadelphia put infielder Scott Kingery and pitchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez, and Tommy Hunter on the 10-day IL with no specified injuries on Thursday. The Phillies had seven players test positive for COVID-19 last month, but manager Joe Girardi couldn’t answer whether any of the players were among them because of medical privacy.
As another player opts out, Trout unwilling to commit to full season
Coronavirus figures to wreak havoc with rosters all season, with the game’s preeminent star still not entirely sure whether he’ll play the full campaign.
“Honestly, I still don’t feel that comfortable,” said Mike Trout, who participated in almost the entire first Los Angeles Angels workout of summer camp wearing a white N-95 mask. “This is a tough time, a tough situation everyone is in. Everybody has a responsibility in this clubhouse. Social distance, stay inside, wear a mask and be safe.”
The three-time AL MVP and his wife, Jessica, are expecting the couple’s first child in August. The 28-year old outfielder said his mindset is to play in the virus-delayed, 60-game season, but a lot will hinge on how he feels the next couple weeks.
“If I test positive, I talked to doctors and they said I couldn’t see the baby for 14 days or Jess can’t see the baby for 14 days if she’s positive, we’re going to be upset. I think the biggest issue is keeping Jess safe, the baby safe, obviously me. Coming to the field every day getting tested is huge. I have to be really cautious.”
Trout said he talks to his wife every night as they continue to figure out what is best. All options remain on the table, including not playing until the baby arrives.
New Angels manager Joe Maddon said “nine or 10” players were missing from workouts in Anaheim and Long Beach, but could not give a reason.
Meanwhile, depth catcher Welington Castillo has decided to opt out of playing this season because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, joining Washington teammates Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross. Manager Dave Martinez said the 33-year-old Castillo, who played last season for the Chicago White Sox, was uncomfortable playing because he has young children.
Also, Rusty Kuntz won’t coach first base this season for Kansas City, following consultations between the 65-year-old and team brass. Kuntz was a special assistant to Royals general manager Dayton Moore the past two seasons before retaking his old on-field job as part of new manager Mike Matheny’s staff.
MLB formally cancels All-Star Game
For the first time since 1945, there will be no Midsummer Classic this year.
Dodger Stadium’s 40-year wait to host the All-Star Game had two years added to it when the league canceled the 2020 edition, scheduled for July 14, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 game is set for Atlanta’s Truist Park, home to the Braves since 2017, with Dodger Stadium awarded 2022.
“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
No date for the 2022 game has been announced, although Dodgers President Stan Kasten said it would take place in the third week of July.
Travel restrictions because of World War II kept the game scheduled for Boston’s Fenway Park and any player selections from taking place in 1945. It was pushed back to the next season.
Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, the third-oldest stadium in baseball behind Fenway and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1912). Since 2013, it has undergone a series of structural and behind-the-scenes improvements, not including $100 million in renovations that specifically helped the Dodgers land the 2020 game. As with Worcester’s Polar Park, coronavirus slowed construction.
Indians consider name change
Amid new pressure sparked by a national movement to correct racial wrongdoings, the Cleveland Indians — so named since 1915 — said they will review their long-debated nickname.
“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues,” the team said in a statement. “The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
In 2018, the Indians removed the contentious Chief Wahoo logo from their game jerseys and caps. The grinning, red-faced mascot, however, is still present on merchandise that can be purchased at Progressive Field and other team shops in Northeast Ohio.
Personal matter keeps ex-Sox prospect Kopech away
Michael Kopech was excused from Chicago White Sox team activities to deal with a personal matter, and general manager Rick Hahn said he doesn’t have a timeline for the return of one of baseball’s top pitching prospects.
“Given the time we’re living through together I will try to answer the question that’s probably now at the top of everybody’s mind and just share the fact that currently Michael is healthy,” Hahn said on a video conference call.
Kopech, sent to Chicago as part of the December 2016 trade that brought Chris Sale to Boston, is coming back from Tommy John surgery in September 2018. He made his big league debut in 2018, going 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA in four starts, and hit triple-digits on the radar gun during his first spring training appearance.
He was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 26 and likely would have began the year in the minors had the season started on time. Now, Kopech is in the mix for a major league spot depending on how long he is away from the team.
“I know it’s very general and I’m not going to get more specific than that, other than we fully support Michael and are going to provide him whatever time and resources he needs and look forward to seeing him in the future,” Hahn said. “This doesn’t just apply to Michael, this applies to everything related to this entire season. You know, things are a little bit day to day.”
Snell comfortable, on time with Tampa
Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell, who made headlines in May when he said he opposed the idea of players taking further pay reductions to start the season during a pandemic, reported to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., and said it wasn’t difficult to start playing again after the players’ agreement with Major League Baseball included their full pro-rated salaries.
“With all the precautions MLB’s taking, it makes it easy to play,” added the 2018 Cy Young Award winner. “Everyone here is just super on their toes about it, so I feel very comfortable about it.”
Snell said most of what he said in May was “correct.” Said if he were to apologize for anything, it would be the way he began his comments by declaring he had to get his money to play.
“The only thing about it that I didn’t like with what I said was just ‘I’ve gotta get mine.’ That was pretty bad,” he said. “Everything else I said past that was pretty correct. But just how I started it, I could see how it could anger people, so I’d apologize for that. Everything after that was pretty spot on with what we’re doing right now.”