With the coronavirus already having disrupted multiple teams’ seasons, commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly warned union chief Tony Clark last week that Major League Baseball could shut down the campaign prematurely if clubs don’t follow its protocols. Baseball has continued on since then, though, and Manfred seems confident the league will finish its current season.
The Marlins and Cardinals are well behind schedule because of positive COVID-19 tests, though Manfred told ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers on Wednesday that most of the league’s players have behaved properly under tough circumstances.
“I think the vast majority of our players have done a really good job adhering to what are difficult protocols,” Manfred said. “They’re contrary to the way people normally live their lives.”
As Rogers explains, MLB’s protocols include surgical masks instead of cloth masks and social distancing on airplanes. According to Manfred, the league’s even considering a way to “spread” relief pitchers out in teams’ bullpens. With no fans in the stands, Manfred suggested some relievers could sit there.
Moreover, the Manfred-led league sent its 30 teams “severe, revised protocol measures” on Wednesday that say it could suspend players or staff members if they’re guilty of “repeated or flagrant violations,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Nightengale details those measures in his piece, but in short, the league’s hammering home the importance of wearing face coverings, socially distancing from one another and limiting travel to essential personnel.
“The behavior of every covered individual affects the players and staff on his or her team, and on other clubs as well,” the league said in a memo to its clubs.