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Marlins season paused through Sunday; Yankees-Phillies series postponed

The Marlins celebrated their Opening Day win against the Phillies Friday.
The Marlins celebrated their Opening Day win against the Phillies Friday.Mitchell Leff/Getty Images via Bloomberg

MIAMI — Major League Baseball has suspended the Miami Marlins season through Sunday because of their worsening coronavirus outbreak, and the three remaining games in this week’s Yankees-Phillies series in Philadelphia were postponed Tuesday.

In a statement, MLB said it wanted to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and plan for a resumption of play early next week.

Commissioner Rob Manfred had said Monday night that MLB would forge ahead despite the Marlins outbreak.

“Obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing,” Manfred said Monday night on the MLB Network. “But I don’t see it as a nightmare. We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”

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What's next for Rob Manfred and MLB?
What's next for Rob Manfred and MLB?Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

The Marlins remained in Philadelphia, where they played over the weekend. The Phillies-Yankees games through Thursday were postponed “out of an abundance of caution,” MLB said, although no Phillies players have tested positive yet.

The Marlins received positive test results for four additional players, bringing their total to 15, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.

Nine players on the 30-man roster, two taxi-squad players, and two staff members tested positive earlier.

The Marlins had been scheduled to play at Baltimore Wednesday and Thursday. Instead, the Yankees will play at Baltimore on those days.

Miami’s three home games this weekend against Washington also were postponed. Additional MLB rescheduling for next week will be announced later this week.

The Marlins underwent another round of tests Tuesday morning. Their outbreak raised anew questions about baseball's attempts to conduct a season outside of a bubble environment, which the NFL also has opted not to create for its season.

“This could put it in danger,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”

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Fauci made his comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America” before the news of the Marlins’ latest test results.

“Major League Baseball — the players, the owners, the managers — have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,” Fauci said. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with the [Marlins].”

The Marlins planned to remain in Philadelphia until at least Wednesday. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it was working with the Marlins and Phillies on contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.

MLB said that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 teams.

The Phillie Phanatic looks on from the empty stands during the seventh inning of Sunday's game against the Marlins.
The Phillie Phanatic looks on from the empty stands during the seventh inning of Sunday's game against the Marlins.Chris Szagola/Associated Press

In Cleveland, Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria returned to the team Tuesday after awakening with some apparent COVID-19 symptoms a day earlier and being isolated for 24 hours.

Manfred said there are factors that would force MLB to alter plans.

“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change,” he said Monday. “Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances.

“Same thing with respect to leaguewide. You get to a certain point leaguewide where it does become a health threat, and we certainly would shut down at that point.”

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MLB and the union held talks Monday after aspects of the protocols were widely ignored during the season’s first four days, such as the prohibitions on high-fives and other physical celebrations.

The NBA and NHL plan to resume their seasons in bubble environments, with basketball at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and hockey at Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto.

“The NBA and the NHL have an advantage: smaller numbers of players, shorter period of time,” Manfred said. “I understand why they did what they did. I’m just not sure it was workable for us.”

The NFL has opted not to create a bubble environment as training camps open this week.

“It might be that they have to go in a bubble,” Fauci said, “but I think they’re conscientious enough and want to protect their players and protect the personnel that they will do the right thing.”