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This is Going Great: Where MLB Stands with COVID [UPDATED]

Illustration for article titled This is Going Great: Where MLB Stands with COVID [UPDATED]
Graphic: Eric Barrow

When last we left our intrepid MLB, it was crowing about getting guys into summer camp (sponsored by Camping World!) and making a naked bid to get Domino’s Pizza to sponsor their health “plan.”

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On Friday, MLB triumphantly announced that only 1.2 percent of its first round of COVID tests returned a positive result. That sounds great until you realize that’s 38 whole people — 31 players and 7 staffers. And that’s BEFORE camps even got underway and before every team completes its testing.

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Let’s check in with baseball and see how things went over the weekend:

On Saturday, we learned that four members of the Atlanta Braves tested positive for COVID, including star first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is struggling with high fevers and other symptoms. On July 4th, Freeman’s wife, Chelsea, updated his condition, saying the virus hit him like “a ton of bricks.”

Two White Sox players tested positive for COVID, but we don’t know who they are. Neither does Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez, apparently, who found out there were positive tests on his team from reporters during a Zoom call after his workout, according to a tweet from one Chicago beat reporter that has now been deleted.

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Meanwhile, baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, expressed his reluctance about playing baseball this year, telling reporters, “Honestly, I still don’t feel comfortable. Obviously, with the baby coming, there’s a lot of stuff going through my mind right now, my wife’s mind and my family.” Trout’s words were followed by images of him running the bases fully masked-up, which begs the question if Mike Trout can work out in a mask, why can’t you put one on to run out to Trader Joe’s? Mike Trout’s mom would like to know.

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Echoing Trout’s words was San Francisco’s Buster Posey, who summed it up pretty succinctly by asking the question on everyone’s mind, “What are we doing?”

Posey was cagey about whether or not he’ll play in 2020, telling the media “I’m gonna watch what’s going on & keep communicating w/my wife and pay attention to what’s going on around me here at the ballpark & what’s going on in county.”

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Might want to get a handle on that in case the Giants have to head to Florida, Buster. Or Arizona. Or Texas.

Speaking of guys opting out of the season, add David Price and the Braves’ Felix Hernandez to a list that already included names like Ryan Zimmerman, Joe and Tyson Ross, whose parents both work in medicine, and Ian Desmond. Just today, Atlanta’s Nick Markakis announced he will also bypass the season. While none of the players who have opted out will have an earth-shattering effect on the game, that could change quickly if the likes of Trout and Posey wind up choosing to sit out over trusting MLB with their health and well-being.

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And they have reason to be skeptical. Yesterday, the National’s Sean Doolittle, who has been outspoken about his reluctance to return to play this season, revealed that things aren’t going exactly as planned when it comes to protecting players from the virus. While speaking to the media on Sunday, Doolittle revealed that he still didn’t have his test results from Friday back.

“I think I’m planning on playing. But at any point, if I start to feel unsafe, if it starts to take a toll on my mental health, with all the things we have to think about and this cloud of uncertainty hanging over everything, then I’ll opt out,” Doolittle said. The reliever went on to point out that the Nationals still haven’t received much of the protective equipment they were promised to help keep players and staff safe.

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It appears that Doolittle doesn’t feel MLB is doing enough on its end (surprise!) to protect players, praising the Nats’ medical staff, but imploring the league on Twitter to do better, saying “But we need help to make this work. Faster test results, PPE for high-risk individuals and players/staff with high-risk family members. The individual efforts have been great so far but we can’t rely solely on individuals. The efforts have to be structural as well.”

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Monday morning, Nat’s GM Mike Rizzo issued a statement to the same effect, announcing the team had canceled today’s workout.

“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Friday, July 3,” Rizzo said on Monday in a statement.

“Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning.

“We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp.

“Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk.

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The Astros also canceled their practice today after not receiving the results of the weekend’s COVID tests:

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As Opening Day inches nearer (schedules will be released tonight at 6 pm ET), the list of players testing positive and publicly debating sitting out the season continues to grow. Meanwhile, the rest of the country continues to wrestle with areas that re-opened their businesses too soon, potentially working to unwittingly spread COVID-19 among the populace. Only time will tell if MLB will prove to be one of the businesses, as well.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Anaheim . . .

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And in Chicago, Cubs’ star Kris Bryant spoke out about testing already not following the protocol MLB laid out.

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It’s almost if MLB owners spent were so preoccupied with whether or not they would, they didn’t stop to think if they actually could get the tests they promised.

Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, add Joey Gallo to the list of players who have tested positive.

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Former sports-talking / law-talking chick. Push out the jive, bring in the love.

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