The weekend is getting off to a rough start for Major League Baseball.
In the span of two hours, the Houston Astros canceled a full day’s worth of workouts after a staff member reported potential exposure to someone who is COVID-19 positive and the Kansas City Royals announced that catcher Cam Gallagher had tested positive after participating in Friday night’s instrasquad game at Kauffman Stadium.
These latest developments further illustrate the uphill — perhaps even impossible — battle MLB is facing in hopes of completing a 60-game season.
Astros cancel workouts
It’s the second time this week the Astros have canceled workouts due to coronavirus concerns.
General manager James Click announced Saturday that the infected person is not part of the Astros' organization, and that the decision to cancel was made out of an “abundance of caution.”
Astros statement on cancelling workout... pic.twitter.com/D2tJ3G1OYD
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) July 11, 2020
“As part of MLB’s testing and reporting plan, we were alerted that a staff member was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization. Out of an abundance of caution, we have cancelled today’s workout,” James Click said in a statement. “We are working closely with MLB and our team physicians to follow the established testing and cleaning protocols so that we can safely bring our players and staff back to the field as soon as possible.”
When Minute Maid Park would be deemed safe for the team to return and resume holding workouts was not immediately clear. The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan reports that the Astros’ alternate training site at the University of Houston would be available for use on Sunday, though holding a full team workout would likely require team employees returning to Minute Maid Park to retrieve equipment.
The Astros were one of several teams to cancel workouts on Monday as they awaited the results of COVID-19 testing from the previous week. Houston was finally given the all clear to practice on Tuesday. The team was able to complete workouts scheduled through Friday.
On one hand, it’s good to know people are following the safety guidelines and that teams are taking swift and proper precautions.
On the other hand, it’s concerning to think about how about many similar cases aren’t being reported, or how many players or employees might not even know they have COVID-19 or know they are being exposed to it.
Cam Gallagher tests positive
Case in point: The positive result for Cam Gallagher came as a shock to the team and to Gallagher himself. In a statement, Gallagher says he’s experienced no symptoms and felt great during Friday’s game.
It is truly a wonder how MLB will get through three months of actual baseball seeing how easy it is for exposure to fly under the radar, and also how much time is lost when the league’s protocols are triggered.
The Astros have already lost two full days of workouts for two different issues related to coronavirus concerns. In just 13 days, they are scheduled to open the season at home against the Seattle Mariners. Losing two days might not have a massive impact two weeks from now, but there’s no telling how many more days could be wiped out for similar reasons.
And what should the Royals do now that a player who was on the field Friday night has tested positive?
It’s starting to feel like the biggest threat to the season is scheduling. Should the Royals wait to resume workouts until everyone who came in contact with Gallagher has time to be tested and get results? Even if that’s <48 hours, how does that work with games?
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) July 11, 2020
If teams can’t get through a three-week summer camp in their home ballparks without surprise positive tests and possible exposures, what happens once we get into the season when teams start traveling and there’s little time to spare for thorough ballpark cleanings?
The risks will only multiply, and the hill MLB is hoping to climb will only get steeper.
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