Two major league games scheduled for Monday night were postponed after more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak that stranded the team in Philadelphia.
The Marlins' home opener against Baltimore was called off, as was the New York Yankees' game at Philadelphia. The Yankees would have been in the same clubhouse the Marlins used last weekend.
Nine Marlins players and five staff members received positive results in tests conducted Friday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press (AP), speaking on condition of anonymity because the results hadn't been publicly disclosed.
The Yankees are staying in Philadelphia for now and have their own clubhouse staff with the team there, the person said.
The Marlins postponed their flight home Sunday night after their series finale against the Phillies.
Major League Baseball announced the cancellation of both games about eight hours before the scheduled first pitch and said additional COVID-19 testing was being conducted.
“The members of the Marlins’ traveling party are self-quarantining in place while awaiting the outcome of those results,” MLB said in a statement.
The Marlins’ outbreak raised anew doubts about MLB’s ability to finish a 60-game season barely underway amid a pandemic.
“The health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus as we navigate through these unchartered waters,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in a statement. “Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation."
Miami pitcher Jose Urena was scratched from his scheduled start in Sunday's game, and catcher Jorge Alfaro went on the injured list Friday. No reasons were given for the moves.
It's unclear when the Marlins received the latest positive test results. Some players texted each other about the team’s health issues before Sunday’s game, but there was no talk of declining to play, shortstop Miguel Rojas said.
“That was never our mentality,” Rojas said. “We knew this could happen at some point. We came to the ballpark ready to play.”
Said manager Don Mattingly: “It’s fair to say guys are concerned about things. They want how they’re feeling about the situation to be heard. I think it’s fair. We’re talking about health.”
The Marlins played exhibition games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Braves, who have since been without their top two catchers, Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, after both players showed symptoms of COVID-19. Mattingly declined to say whether he thought the Marlins’ health issues were related to the Atlanta stop.
Miami is a hot spot for the pandemic, but on Sunday, Mattingly said he feels safer there.
“You feel safe at the ballpark; I feel safe with my surroundings going home," he said. "It’s a lot scarier on the road.”