Major League baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport didn̵7;t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could close for the season, ESPN sources said.
The league and players acknowledge that the coming days are a critical situation after the Miami Marlins outbreak, in which 18 players and two coaches rated COVID-19 positive. Two positive tests by St. Louis Cardinal players on Friday exacerbated concerns about the coronavirus in sports competitions and whether players are properly adhering to MLB protocols to prevent outbreaks similar to those in Miami.
Should another outbreak occur, Manfred, who has the power to close the season, could move in that direction. Several players who were notified of the calls feared the season could close as early as Monday if the positive tests jumped out or players continued to not strictly adhere to league protocols.
Sources told ESPN that state and local authorities were putting pressure on baseball players over mandates listed in the league’s 113-page operations manual. The broadcasts, which showed players they were fantasizing, spitting and not wearing masks, allowed government officials to look at how seriously players are taking protocols, sources said.
There are also concerns about the choice in the field, as one senior official says, “Several bad decisions are being made.”
The cardinal game against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed to Friday and moved to Sunday’s duel. Earlier, the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, last played in Miami on Sunday, lacked scheduled games, leaving 20% of the league’s Friday slate empty.