A Houston Astros player has tested positive for COVID-19 as MLB closes all Spring Training facilities.
The baseball world has been focused on the drawn-out fight between MLB and the MLBPA over money, which was viewed as the biggest impediment to a potential 2020 season. Now, however, there could be an even bigger obstacle as players are beginning to test positive for COVID-19, including one Houston Astros player.
The identity of the player is not being disclosed, but the team did confirm that one player tested positive at its Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach several days ago. GM James Click said about 50 other people were tested and all turned up negative. The player has been in quarantine and exhibited only minor symptoms.
News also broke on Thursday that MLB is closing all 30 teams’ Spring Training facilities in order to deep clean them, and that players and staff will not be allowed to return unless they test negative for COVID-19. Earlier in the day, it was reported that three teams closed their Spring Training facilities due to positive tests and/or symptoms.
The Phillies had five players and three staff members test positive, while the Blue Jays had a player displaying COVID-19 symptoms. The Giants, whose facility is in Arizona, also shut down after someone showed symptoms. Additionally, the Rangers had voluntarily suspended workouts at their facility to await further testing protocols to be put in place.
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This is now becoming the bigger storyline for the sport. The war of attrition between MLB and the MLBPA over money appears to be nearing an end one way or another. But a rash of COVID-19 cases among players and employees could potentially extinguish any hope of there being real baseball in 2020.
The fact that so many cases have become publicly known in such a short span of time is already forcing the league to act. It was reported earlier on Friday that MLB was considering closing every team’s Spring Training site to have them cleaned and establish league-wide protocols, and it didn’t take long for that to happen.
If there’s any hope of starting and completing a season, the protocols will have to be strict. There’s talk of such a protocol being that anyone using a team’s facilities must first test negative, and then be tested every other day after that. Obviously, anyone exhibiting even mild symptoms would have to quarantine until it’s deemed safe for them to return.
Florida and Arizona have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases recently, which of course are the two states that house all of the MLB Spring Training facilities. Texas has seen a spike as well, which could complicate matters for the Astros. It’s certainly possible that the spike will continue nationwide.
If that happens, the entire season could be in jeopardy, making money the least of everyone’s concerns.