MLB postpones pair of games as Marlins outbreak threatens baseball’s return

Sports

Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly looks out from the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

MIAMI (AP) — A growing coronavirus outbreak among players and staff on the Miami Marlins has already led to the cancellation of two games, renewing questions about the feasibility of Major League Baseball’s virus-shortened season before it got through its first week of action.

First the Marlins’ home opener Monday night against Baltimore was postponed as the team remains in Philadelphia. A short time later, league officials also scratched a New York Yankees game against the Phillies, the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. The decision was presumably made over fears the Yankees would have to use a visiting clubhouse that could be contaminated.

The Marlins postponed their flight home Sunday night after their series finale against the Phillies.

A person familiar with the decision to postpone the Marlins game told The Associated Press that the move was made due to health precautions. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the postponement hadn’t been announced.

Marlins pitcher Jose Urena was scratched from his scheduled start in Sunday’s game, and catcher Jorge Alfaro went on the injured list Friday. No reasons were given for the moves, but manager Don Mattingly said those who tested positive would be quarantined in Philadelphia.

The Marlins’ precarious health raised anew doubts about MLB’s ability to finish the season during a pandemic. In Cincinnati, Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas and center fielder Nick Senzel felt sick Sunday, a day after a teammate went on the injured list because he tested positive for COVID-19.

Some Marlins players texted each other about the team’s health issues before Sunday’s game, but there was no talk of declining to play, shortstop Miguel Rojas said.

“That was never our mentality,” Rojas said. “We knew this could happen at some point. We came to the ballpark ready to play.”

Said Mattingly: “It’s fair to say guys are concerned about things. They want how they’re feeling about the situation to be heard. I think it’s fair. We’re talking about health.”

The Marlins played exhibition games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Braves, who have since been without their top two catchers, Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, after both players showed symptoms of COVID-19. Mattingly declined to say whether he thought the Marlins’ health issues were related to the Atlanta stop.

Miami is a hot spot for the pandemic, but on Sunday, Mattingly said he feels safer there.

“You feel safe at the ballpark; I feel safe with my surroundings going home,” he said. “It’s a lot scarier on the road.”

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AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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