July 6, 2020

Camps Have Been Open Less Than One Week, And MLB's Virus Testing Has Been A Mess (Limited Results Show At Least 46 Players Test Positive)

MLB's Summer Training camps have been open for less than one week and the first round of testing has gone less than smoothly, to put it mildly.

Failures to deliver test results on time have caused at least six teams to change their schedules. The three weeks of training camp does not allow much, if any, margin for error.

Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic catalogues the missteps: releasing the results of the first round of testing even though the results for the majority of teams were pending or incomplete, many players having to wait longer than the promised 48 hours to hear test results (because MLB decided to use only one lab (in Utah) to process all of the tests, roughly 14,000 per week), and promised personal protection equipment never being delivered.

At least three teams (Astros, Cardinals, Nationals) cancelled workouts on Monday and three others (Angels, Athletics, Diamondbacks) delayed workouts. If that continues, teams will not be ready when the season begins. The 60-game schedule for 2020 is supposed to be announced tonight.

At least 46 players have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (this does not include staff members):
Red Sox (2): Josh Taylor, P; Darwinzon Hernandez, P
Yankees (2): DJ LeMahieu, INF; Luis Cessa, P

Twins (4): Miguel Sano, 3B; Willians Astudillo, C; Nick Gordon, SS; Edwar Colina, P
White Sox (2): unnamed
Royals (1): Salvador Perez, C
Cleveland (1): Delino DeShields, OF
Tigers (1): Unnamed

Rangers (2): Joey Gallo, OF; Brett Martin, P
Mariners: "a few"

Phillies (7?): Unnamed (Pitcher Aaron Nola, outfielder Adam Haseley, and catcher Christian Bethancourt have not reported to camp; Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and Ranger Suarez were placed on the injured list without explanation.)
Atlanta (4): Freddie Freeman, 1B; Will Smith, P; Touki Toussaint, P; Pete Kozma, INF
Marlins (4): Unnamed
Nationals (2): Unnamed

Cardinals (3): Ricardo Sanchez, P; Genesis Cabrera, P; Elehuris Montero, 3B
Pirates (2): Blake Cederlind, P; Socrates Brito, OF
Brewers: (2): Luis Urias, SS; Angel Perdomo, P

Giants (4): Luis Madero, P; Hunter Bishop, OF; 2 unnamed
Diamondbacks (2): Silvino Bracho; P; Junior Guerra, P
Padres (1): Tommy Pham, OF
Other players, most notably Mike Trout, Buster Posey, and Zack Wheeler, have questioned whether they are doing the right thing. A debacle over testing could certainly sway their opinions.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle spoke for many players when he expressed concern and impatience. He also thinks MLB and the Players Association spent so much time trying to come to an agreement on salaries and the schedule that the health and safety protocols may have received less attention than necessary.
This has to get fixed. There are a lot of players right now that are trying to make decisions that might be participating in camp that aren't 100 percent comfortable with where things are at right now. That's where I am. ... Instead [of health and safety] the focus was trying to jam in a new salary structure in the middle of a pandemic. It felt tone-deaf. It felt gross. ...

It's a little bit disorganized. We're not getting tests back in time. They still haven't sent us the PPE. We're supposed to have N95 masks, stuff like that, gowns, gloves. We're supposed to have that stuff, we don't have that stuff. Those are the things it's going to take for people to stay safe enough for us to continue this season.
To date, eight players (all National Leaguers) have decided to sit out the 2020 season, with David Price and Felix Hernandez the latest additions:
Diamondbacks: Mike Leake, RHP

Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman, 1B; Joe Ross, RHP; Welington Castillo, C

Rockies: Ian Desmond, OF

Dodgers: David Price, LHP

Giants: Tyson Ross, RHP

Atlanta: Nick Markakis, OF; Felix Hernandez, RHP; Wellin
[T]he Red Sox testing wasn't complete when MLB's first round of numbers went out. The Padres are another organization that has had to wait longer than two days for results. If MLB is going to have a chance to pull this off, there is almost no margin of error. What happens on Labor Day weekend? Another delay? This isn't a math quiz, it's an imperative part of having a safe and functioning league. ...

Players are supposed to be tested every other day. They are supposed to get those test results ideally within 24 hours, but up to 48. They are supposed to get N95 and gloves and practice safe social distancing. They are supposed to able to trust the system, trust the speed of the intake tests and the league in releasing pertinent data.

What we know is before Wednesday's intake, there were already confirmed positives among an unknown number of players. If you add those to the 31 players in the league's release, it raises the proportion of players testing positive out of the roughly 1,800 involved on the 60-man rosters. ...

There have been more positive tests every day, including two for the Nationals ... The Cardinals have announced three positive cases, the White Sox two. [Atlanta] star Freddie Freeman, who initially tested negative, was among four cases in Atlanta. This has all been within five days of MLB starting back up.

We know the initial intake positive tests are clearly above the reported 1.2 percent. What we don't know is what the reasoning was in MLB, releasing incomplete data that could be construed as giving players and fans exactly what you don't want: a false sense of security. A league source told The Athletic, MLB's initial data did have representation from all 30 clubs, though it's unclear what percentage was completed.
The Mexican Baseball League announced the cancellation of the 2020 season, the first time in 95 years that an entire season had been canceled. The summer season was scheduled to start August 7.

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