While most teams are already hosting full workouts and beginning to schedule intrasquad games at “summer camp,” multiple clubs are still experiencing delays in their COVID-19 test results that are preventing them from taking the field just yet. The Athletics are in a particularly frustrating spot, it seems. Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News reported last night that many of the team’s tests, incredibly, had yet to even be shipped to Major League Baseball’s lab in Salt Lake City.
Alex Coffey of The Athletic obtained a message from A’s general manager David Forst to team employees, in which he voiced considerable frustration over the lack of communication and the inexplicably delayed shipping of the team’s tests, which weren’t due to arrive at the lab for processing until 1:30am MST earlier today.
“Despite having our schedule a week ahead of time, [testing company CDT and MLB] didn’t alert us to the possibility of any complications around July 4th,” Forst wrote within a lengthier message, adding that the A’s were only made aware of the delays after he and the training staff pressed MLB and CDT for information. “…If possible, I’m as frustrated and pissed as you are.”
Perhaps more remarkably, the testers assigned to the Angels’ facility simply didn’t show up to perform tests, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Angels players instead “did saliva tests on their own,” per the report, and it’s not clear when the tests will ultimately be processed. At least two other teams throughout the league had this issue over the weekend, Rosenthal adds.
The Nationals, too, have had their testing results delayed. Left-hander Sean Doolittle told reporters yesterday that despite being tested for a second time Sunday morning, he’d yet to even receive the results from his first test (link via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post).
“We’ve got to clean that up, right?” Doolittle asked rhetorically. “That’s one thing that makes me a little nervous.” Doolittle added that Nationals players and staff were waiting on the N95 masks and gloves that were supposed to be delivered to the team. The left-hander praised the organization’s medical staff for their processes and protocols, but it’s clear that the Nats, like the A’s and Angels, are being impacted by significant logistical issues that have emerged in the early stages of the cobbled-together 2020 season.
All of this comes at a time when players are still debating whether to play at all in 2020. At this point, we’ve seen David Price, Felix Hernandez, Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross, Tyson Ross, Welington Castillo, Ian Desmond and Mike Leake all decline to play in 2020. Others, Doolittle included, have voiced a desire to play while also expressing their uneasiness with taking the field in an uncertain environment. Mike Trout acknowledged last week that he still doesn’t feel comfortable — and that was seemingly before the testers assigned to the Angels’ facility didn’t show.
These logistical shortcomings will be imperative to iron out if the 2020 season is to take place. Players are expected to be tested every other day, and delays in results will be all the more problematic if they occur when the season is underway. Right now, most of the Athletics’ position players simply aren’t able to begin working out at the team’s stadium. That’s a disadvantage to the Oakland organization, to be sure, but the team has been able to manage by keeping those players away from the pitchers and catchers who have reported. During the season, that won’t be possible. Efficient testing procedures will be vital for the season to not only get underway but to have any real chance at being played to completion.
At this point, the Athletics’ best-case scenario would be for their players to report tonight, per Rubin, but they could yet be delayed until Tuesday. Rosenthal notes that today’s Angels workout has already been delayed in order to ensure that testers are actually present.