With the coronavirus ravaging the Marlins, who haven’t played this week and won’t do so again until at least Monday, Major League Baseball is changing its COVID-19 protocols in an effort to keep the season running, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports.
The league still won’t force players or staff to quarantine when they’re on the road, but it is encouraging them to stay in their hotel rooms and socially distance from one another when they’re not at the ballpark. Additionally, they’ll have to wear surgical masks – not cloth masks – and each team must bring a compliance officer on the road. That individual’s purpose will be to make sure that teams follow the league’s coronavirus protocols, including arranging seating charts on team buses, according to Passan.
Less than a week into the season, it’s up in the air whether the Marlins will even play a 60-game schedule (or, for that matter, whether any other team will). The Marlins have seen a combined 18 players and staff test positive, knocking their season off the rails in the early going, and their health issues have affected other clubs’ schedules. The Phillies, who hosted the Marlins last weekend, had been slated to play a four-game home-and-home set versus the Yankees, but that was postponed. Additionally, their game against the Blue Jays on Friday was pushed to Saturday.
Despite a less-than-ideal start to the season, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday, “We think we can keep people safe and continue to play.” Clearly, the league’s hope is that the changes to its protocols will increase the chances of that happening.