Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark on Friday that if the game does not do a better job of managing the coronovirus, it could be closed for the season, sources familiar with the conversation told ESPN .
The league and players recognize in the coming days that the Miami Marlins’ outbreak marks a turning point in which 18 players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. Two positive tests from St. Louis Cardinals players on Friday raised concerns inside the game about the presence of coronoviruses and whether a jointly agreed protocol is being properly followed to prevent a similar outbreak from Miami.
Should any other outbreak stop, Manfred, who has the power to close the season, can move in that direction. If positive tests jump or players do not strictly follow the league’s protocol, many players feared the season would be closed at the earliest.
Sources told ESPN that state and local governments have pressured the players to drop the mandates outlined in the league’s 113-page Operation Manual. Sources said broadcasters have shown players not high-fiveing, spitting and not wearing masks.
In addition, there is concern about off-the-field options, with one high-ranking official saying: “Some bad decisions are being made.”
The Cardinals’ game against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed to Friday and changed to a doubleheader on Sunday. Already, the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, who last played Miami on Sunday, were missing scheduled games, leaving 20% of the league’s Friday slate vacant.