MLB Reportedly Investigating Cause of Marlins COVID-19 Outbreak

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2020

Baseball highlights play on the large screen as the Miami Marlins take batting practice during a baseball workout at Marlins Park, Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

MLB officials have begun investigating the source of the Miami Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported another Marlins player tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the organization's number of positive tests to 18 (16 players and two coaches). MLB suspended Miami's season through at least Sunday because of the outbreak.

Nightengale reported officials are now determining whether the Marlins violated any of the health and safety protocols laid out prior to the start of the regular season.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen reported that Marlins players were alerted Sunday that their teammates had tested positive for COVID-19. They proceeded with their series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, winning 11-6.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said shortstop Miguel Rojas helped organize a group chat on the matter, and Rojas explained that they never seriously considered not playing.

"That was never the mentality," Rojas said. "We knew that this would happen at some point. We came to the ballpark and we were ready to play. That was never our thought that we weren't going to play."

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Rojas is among the Marlins to test positive.

The Miami Herald's Jordan McPherson reported that Marlins players weren't solely responsible for the decision and a determination was made "through multiple factors, starting with Major League Baseball and trickling down to the teams."

Commissioner Rob Manfred also has the ability to unilaterally cancel or postpone a team's game or season in the event of an outbreak.

Other leagues have utilized restricted "bubbles" to house the necessary personnel and stage games.

Two teams pulled out of the MLS is Back tournament after multiple positive coronavirus tests. The approach has otherwise worked for the most part. The NBA announced Wednesday that none of the 344 players tested in Orlando, Florida, yielded a positive result.

MLB explored a "bubble" plan in the spring, which would have called for teams to be stationed in Phoenix and play their games in stadiums throughout the area.

Manfred told MLB Network on Monday (via ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr.) the league determined it presented too large a challenge: "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."

The potential problems with not adhering to the "bubble" blueprint were evident when MLB found itself combating its first COVID-19 outbreak less than a week after it opened the 2020 season.