Rob Manfred: MLB Not Facing 'Nightmare' Scenario with Marlins' COVID-19 Outbreak

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2020, file photo, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during baseball owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. Manfred tells The Associated Press that the commissioner's office, teams and the players' association
John Raoux/Associated Press

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday the league will carry on with the 2020 season after the Miami Marlins experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers reported at least 13 members of the team have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Manfred said on MLB Network that owners didn't seriously entertain the idea of halting the season and that league officials "believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe," per the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin.

"I don't put this in the 'nightmare' category," Manfred said.

He added that MLB personnel feel "we can keep people safe and continue to play," per's Bryan Hoch.

ESPN's Marly Rivera passed along more of Manfred's comments: "We expected we were going to have positives at some point. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to play even through an outbreak like this and complete our season."

The Marlins' positive tests demonstrate the risk posed by resuming sports during the pandemic. Unlike other American leagues, MLB hasn't moved its operations to a single location to stage games, where it could closely monitor involved parties.

Manfred said such a "bubble" plan wouldn't have been viable, per ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr.: "The duration would have been much longer—the longer you go, the more people you have, the less likely it is that you can make the bubble work. ... I'm just not sure it was workable for us."

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The "Arizona plan" had gained some traction in the spring. Players and coaches would have stayed in the Phoenix area for the season and played games at stadiums there. As Manfred alluded to, the logistical hurdles would have been many.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price, who opted out of the season, questioned Monday whether Manfred and MLB were placing enough importance on the health of players:

Manfred addressed the tweet, saying he "disagree[s] with David's comments" and that health "was the most important [issue] to all of us," per the Southern California News Group's J.P. Hoornstra.

ESPN's Karl Ravech noted Manfred has the authority to indefinitely pause or cancel the season. The commissioner acknowledged he would suspend play for a team if positive tests "rendered it completely non-competitive," per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson.

Some would argue that's true of the Marlins right now. It's also not clear whether they've experienced the height of their outbreak.

Manfred said on MLB Network that Miami won't play the Baltimore Orioles on Monday or Tuesday but will on Wednesday if additional testing of the team yields "acceptable" results.