Major League Baseball’s season is less than a week old, but one team has already experienced a coronavirus outbreak that will sideline a chunk of its roster and has caused a game to be canceled. The Miami Marlins, who had four players test positive during their opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies, had an additional eight players and two coaches test positive on Monday, less than 12 hours before they were supposed to play their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
That means the Marlins have had at least 14 individuals become infected over the last several days. In response to the outbreak, the Marlins game against the Orioles on Monday night will not be played, Baltimore GM Mike Elias confirmed.
Here are five things to know about this story.
Who has been affected?
Four individuals consented to allow the Marlins to disclose their positive test ahead of Monday’s news: Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielders Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez, and pitcher Jose Urena, who was scratched prior to his Sunday start.
Where are the Marlins, Orioles?
The Marlins have not left Philadelphia. They were scheduled to depart on Sunday evening, after the game, but changed their plans to leave on Monday. That flight did not take off, however.
The Orioles, meanwhile, do appear to be in Miami. Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. tweeted that the plane was departing on Sunday night. That tracks with the normal operating procedures that see teams arrive the night prior rather than the morning of games.
What about the Phillies game on Monday?
Are the Phillies at risk of a similar outbreak?
Because the Marlins almost certainly had individuals who tested positive playing in games over the weekend, it’s fair to wonder if the Phillies might be at risk of a similar outbreak.
Based on what is known about COVID-19, the highest risk for infection is spending prolonged time in closed or poorly ventilated areas with large crowds and in an intimate fashion. In other words, playing a baseball game outside with (mostly) fleeting contact does not seem like a situation that should engender transmission from one individual to another — at least not on another team.
The Athletic talked to a pair of infectious-disease experts who agreed that the likelihood of transmission from the Marlins to the Phillies was “low.” Of course, “low” doesn’t mean zero, and Phillies players (and Yankees players, if they are asked to dress in the same clubhouse as the Marlins did) are right to be nervous about the situation at hand.
Will the season be canceled?
This is an unknowable question at this point, in part because there are no clear guidelines on what would trigger the season to be scrapped. Again, as The Athletic noted, the decision is in the hands of commissioner Rob Manfred, and him alone.
Ostensibly, if the season remains in place, then more players could opt-out rather than expose themselves and their loved ones to the potential for a similar outbreak in their clubhouse.