The Philadelphia Phillies placed four players on the injured list Wednesday night in somewhat mysterious fashion.
The injuries for the four players—infielder Scott Kingery and pitchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter—weren't specified by the team, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). And manager Joe Girardi didn't offer any further explanation.
"What I can tell you is they're on the injured list, and that's about all I can tell you," he said. "MLB has given protocols on how to handle it. I don't have a timetable on those players. I can't really answer that question. As soon as I get an answer, I will give it to you."
According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, the Phillies "did not expect the league to post the transactions on a public website" and "did not inform the agents of the four players about the roster moves." And one player reportedly could return to the active roster by this weekend.
So what exactly is going on?
Gelb reported that the Phillies invoked the "outbreak" clause MLB has put into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That reads:
"In the event that a Club experiences a significant number of COVID-19 Related IL placements at the Alternate Training Site at any one time (i.e., three or more players), and the Club chooses to substitute those players from within the Club’s organization, MLB reserves the right to allow that Club to remove those substitute players from the Club Player Pool without requiring a release."
As Gelb noted, the Phillies reportedly viewed the "outbreak" clause as a chance to add extra catchers to their 60-man roster without having to potentially release them down the line, since a player could be removed without release or trade if "he is replacing someone on the COVID-19 list."
"In the coming days, perhaps as early as today, we'll probably have some modifications to the roster, having to do with certain players being placed on the COVID list," GM Matt Klentak said Monday, perhaps foreshadowing the roster moves.
So while the team and players haven't officially or publicly announced that they tested positive for the coronavirus—and Major League Baseball won't make such an announcement—it appears that may have been what happened.