Even after Major League Baseball compiled a reported 67-page outline of health protocols for salvaging the 2020 season amid a global pandemic, Nationals starter Max Scherzer is worried the disease could still spread easily via the trainers and coaches who work closely with players before, during and after games.
"They're constantly working with every single player on the team, and understanding how infectious this disease is, that's where you worry that you could be putting somebody in harm's way," Scherzer told ESPN in a story published Tuesday.
MLB and the union are in the midst of negotiations over how a shortened season could safely be played without posing a significant risk of further spreading the coronavirus, among other factors. While both sides have expressed optimism that a season will be played this summer, the public health hurdles alone pose a significant threat to the league's reported target start date of early July.
Scherzer is one of the eight active players on the MLBA executive board, a group that has assisted union leader Tony Clark in his decision-making process throughout the negotiations. The veteran pitcher has yet to speak publicly about MLB's proposal or the state of negotiations.
According to ESPN, league officials proposed testing players and those who come into frequent contact with them multiple times per week, although not daily. The goal would be to catch an infection before it spreads to other players and employees, allowing the team to proceed with its schedule while those who test positive are quarantined.
However, ESPN cited "experts" who say that it may take a few days after someone has contracted the virus for them to test positive. If a coach or trainer were to become infected and not show symptoms, they could be exposed to significant a number of players before a positive test alerts them to the presence of coronavirus in their immune system.
Scherzer's concern is one of the many risks that both sides must weigh as they work toward building a viable plan for hosting the 2020 season. There is still a lot of time between now and July 1, but there are also countless scenarios that must be considered before a pitch is thrown in an MLB game again.
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