Frequent and timely COVID-19 testing was a big part of MLB’s plan for a 60-game pandemic season, but things have not gone smoothly just one weekend into spring training “Summer Camp.”
Oakland Athletics general manager Dave Forst is reportedly “frustrated” and “livid” at multi-day delays in shipping and processing team COVID-19 tests, delays which are now pushing back the A’s first full-squad workout since March. The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels and at least two other unidentified teams are also having significant issues with testing, and a lack of communication from MLB is emerging as a common theme.
Independence Day testing delays
According to Alex Coffey of The Athletic, A’s staff and player tests from several days earlier were still waiting to be shipped to MLB’s lab in Utah as of Sunday night, well outside of the 24-48 hour time range MLB promised for test results. Since no one can enter the A’s facility until everyone the tests come through, the A’s first practice has been moved to later on Monday — if it even happens on Monday at all.
The Athletic obtained a WhatsApp message that Forst sent to the team, in which he explains that MLB repeatedly failed to make the correct arrangements to ship the tests, failed to communicate with the team, and didn’t take the Independence Day holiday into account.
“On top of screwing up the logistics of this whole thing, neither MLB nor CDT (the company that collects the samples) communicated any of this to us until we pressed them for information, at which point all they could do was apologize, which frankly doesn’t really do much for us.
“ ... Despite having our schedule a week ahead of time, they didn’t alert us to the possibility of any complications around July 4th, and once there were issues, they did nothing to communicate that to us or remedy the situation until Nick (Paparesta, the A’s head athletic trainer) and I forced the issue at various times today. If possible, I’m as frustrated and pissed as you are (well, probably not as pissed as Matt is), and I assure you the rest of the staff is as well.”
Nationals still waiting for test results
The A’s aren’t the only team having issues with testing. As Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reported on Sunday, Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle had been waiting for his test results for more than the 24-48 hours he’d been promised, and he wasn’t the only one.
In a statement released on Monday, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that the team had been waiting at least 72 hours for their results, leading to Monday’s workout being canceled.
“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Friday, July 3rd. Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning.”
Testers didn’t show
On Sunday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic revealed that the Los Angeles Angels had to perform their own tests on Sunday because testers didn’t show up, and their Monday workout has been delayed as a consequence.
The Athletic also learned from sources that testers did not show for Angels and two other, unidentified clubs Sunday. Angels players did saliva tests on their own; team shipped tests to lab in Utah. Monday workout pushed back from 9 am PT noon to make sure testers are present. https://t.co/BGD0FQGmGr— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 6, 2020
It’s not just the A’s, Angels, and Nationals. As Rosenthal said in his tweet, testers didn’t show up at the facilities of two additional unidentified teams. So to keep track of what we know so far: three teams reportedly had issues with testers not showing up, one team had significant days with test sample transportation, and one team had been waiting at least 72 hours for their results.
It’s possible this is just a holiday hiccup because Independence Day fell on a weekend this year. But holiday or not, the first weekend of testing hasn’t inspired confidence in some MLB players or team executives. Beyond the testing itself, the lack of communication and planning from MLB is alarming.
Repeated and timely testing is an integral part of MLB’s shortened season. If they can’t get that right in the very first weekend of spring training, that doesn’t bode well for the future.
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