MLB Players Reportedly Want Increased COVID-19 Testing, Fewer Restrictions

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 17:  A detail of officiall major league baseball postseason baseballs are seen in a bucket during batting practice between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 17, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Days after ESPN's Jeff Passan reported on MLB's proposal to address players' health concerns should the 2020 season start amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB Players Association provided its response.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman shared the details Thursday:

Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1

2/ •testing frequency •protocols for positive tests •in stadium medical personnel •protections for high risk players and family •access to pre and postgame therapies •sanitization protocols

Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1

In conversations with players and agents heard players were hoping -- among many other things -- to get restrictions lifted on showering at stadiums, especially b4 going on road. And bans on items such as hydrotherapy pools that help with preparation/recovery.

Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1

Players also want test volume increased. Daily would be best to allow even greater comfort/fewer restrictions within clubhouse/ballpark. Question will be if MLB can get enough tests without depleting from what is publicly needed to make that happen.

According to Passan, the MLB plan included the goal of performing as many as 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week. Anyone who isn't actively participating in a game would sit six feet apart in the stands. The league would also prohibit celebratory gestures such as hugs, high-fives and fist bumps.

However, Passan wrote that "multiple officials who have seen it expressed to ESPN skepticism about the ability to implement [the plan]."

Multiple ESPN reporters also contributed to an in-depth piece that laid out the possible consequences to those inside MLB and the general public if baseball were to start under the league's proposal. 

Dr. Val Griffeth, an Oregon-based medical specialist, argued that in addition to potentially spreading the coronavirus as players travel around one or more cities, MLB would be using supplies that could be needed elsewhere.

"Every resource being used by Major League Baseball will be a resource not being used by a healthcare service somewhere," Griffeth said. "Unfortunately, that's the reality we live in."

The MLBPA's response comes as the union remains engaged in a stalemate with MLB owners over how to calculate player compensation.

The sides agreed in March to prorate salaries based on the number of games played. A player originally making $10 million would only get $5 million if the season is cut in half.

However, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported owners approved a plan that replaced prorated salaries with a 50-50 revenue split. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich he was against the idea because it restricted the total amount of money players could earn, in effect instituting a salary cap.