How MLB's updated health and safety protocols affect the Cubs

Maddie Lee
·3 min read

Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner has been holed up in his Cincinnati hotel room all week.

The 23-year-old said he's only left to go to the field.

"I've definitely felt safe in this process," he said Thursday of the Cubs' first road trip, "and the team's done a nice job of making it comfortable and making the most of what we can do."

So, it doesn't seem as if MLB's updated travel rules will change much for the Cubs. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that a memo sent to teams on Tuesday encouraged players to only leave hotels for games, required surgical masks during travel and called for a compliance officer to travel with the team.

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The memo came after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Marlins organization that has reportedly infected at least 16 players and two staff members. On Thursday, the series between the Blue Jays and Phillies – the latter of which hosted the Marlins last weekend – was cancelled in the wake of two Philadelphia staffers testing positive for COVID-19.

"You see that and you realize what a delicate season and issue we're having to work through," Cubs manager David Ross said. "And it's a constant reminder of continuing to do the things we've been doing: wash your hands, wear your mask. It takes a lot of trust in your group and one another to continue to push forward in such a unique environment when you see some of this stuff going on."

The memo seems to be more of a fortification of preexisting rules than a wholesale change. The 2020 operations manual already encouraged the traveling party to remain in the hotel except for essential tasks. It also asked each club to designate an existing staff member as a "infection control prevention coordinator."

"We try to stay in our own bubble and world here," Ross said, "and trying to do everything that we can to ... keep us and our loved ones safe."

Several Cubs went into the week prepared for semi-isolation. Contreras said he packed his own sheets, towels and Lysol. But he also planned to make his hotel room feel "like a second home."

"You have to read a book or do something inside," he said. "I know it's a little weird, but we have to make an adjustment."

Pitcher Tyler Chatwood went a different entertainment route, hoping there would be good movies on TV.

Hotel, to ballpark, to hotel. 

"That's all you're going to be able to do," Ross said. "We talked about some of the mental challenges -- there's a lot of down time with your own thoughts in this world we're living in. But it's also refreshing to come to the field and be with your teammates."

 

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How MLB's updated health and safety protocols affect the Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago