Report: Diamondbacks, More MLB Teams Have Used 3rd-Party Labs for COVID-19 Tests

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2020

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 22: Major league baseballs sit in a basket during batting practice before a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 22, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Multiple Major League Baseball teams reportedly used third-party labs to secure COVID-19 tests for players amid delays from the league's official Utah-based lab that was tabbed as the testing service for baseball's return-to-play plan.

Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reported the news, noting the Arizona Diamondbacks and other teams that have not been identified have done so as the league dealt with delays with the scheduled July 23 start of the season approaching.

Arizona sent players—including prospect Seth Beer—to a testing site in the Phoenix area. It was announced Beer previously tested positive for COVID-19, but he was cleared Thursday.

According to the report, the Diamondbacks went to a third-party lab in an effort to receive a player's second consecutive negative test so he could return to the field. Players must receive two negative test results that are at least 24 hours apart to receive clearance to play from a four-person committee featuring medical personnel chosen by the league and its players association.

The Diamondbacks said they used third-party labs for less than 1 percent of the tests performed on players and staff and only when those labs ensured the team doing so would not take away tests from the general public.

While players are to be tested every two days with results available within 24 to 48 hours, there were delays over the July 4 weekend the league has since said are fixed after also partnering with a second lab.

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Still, the delays led to criticism, with Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant notably saying some players hadn't been tested for a week. He also said, "I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would be comfortable. Honestly, I don't really feel that way."

What's more, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, per Rosenthal, "Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk."

Rosenthal and Buchanan explained that the league allows for third-party testing if someone arrives with a fever above 100.4 or has symptoms that may indicate COVID-19 on a day they are not scheduled to be tested.

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