No autographs, spitting or daily coronavirus blood tests under MLB proposal

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago

No autographs. No high fives. No spitting.

But also no daily COVID-19 blood tests?

Some of the health-and-safety measures being proposed by Major League Baseball were reported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Wednesday. Some strike as common sense, but one of the ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus that has gripped the globe during this pandemic is not being recommended.

The league submitted to the players' union a document covering health and safety that's between 80 and 100 pages long, according to Nightengale. Among the recommendations, players will be strongly discouraged from using ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, players will be encouraged not to sign autographs or pose for pictures with fans, and high-fives and spitting will be forbidden.

Surprisingly, though, Nightengale reported that the league is not recommending daily blood tests for COVID-19 as part of its proposal to start the season but instead is recommending daily temperature checks.

In the same report, Nightengale wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays' medical adviser recommends that every player should be tested every day upon entering ballparks and that players should face a daily nasal swab, blood tests, temperature checks and a few questions, with the 24-hour quarantining of any player who reports as little as a sore throat.

But already one aspect of those recommendations is not being proposed by the league, which makes one wonder how the health-and-safety measures that are being proposed will be received by the players.

Nightengale specifically said that the league is not recommending daily blood tests, which could still mean frequent, if not daily, blood tests and frequent tests conducted via nasal swabs, though none of that was specified as being part of the league's proposal. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that the league believes it can acquire an adequate amount of tests, viewed as a critical element in any scenario in which baseball is played in 2020.

RELATED: How state and local governments could throw a wrench in MLB's scheduling plan

Baseball is also insisting that the postseason, expanded from 10 teams to 14 teams in the proposal OK'd by owners earlier this week, is over by the first week of November so players aren't still playing during a feared "second wave" of coronavirus infections across the country.

While the league doesn't want players to risk infection months from now, it is moving forward with its plan to start the season this summer, all while the virus is nowhere near under control at present. The state of Illinois announced Wednesday its highest single-day COVID-19 death total yet, with 192 people losing their lives in a 24-hour span. A day earlier, the director of public health in Los Angeles County said it's a near certainty the local stay-at-home order there will be in place for another three months.

The reopening of states across the country provided optimism that baseball will be played this year - the governors of both Arizona and Florida gave the green light for pro sports to return in those states - but it did nothing to answer the question of whether baseball should be played this year. Medical experts say that the level of testing in the United States is nowhere near where it needs to be, and the reopening of those states is reportedly projected to cause a steep increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

While the financial fight between the league and the players' union is grabbing the biggest and loudest headlines, players are rightfully concerned about being asked to return to work in the middle of a pandemic. The first day of negotiations between the two sides included the discussion of health matters, and Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle showed Monday, after details of the league's proposal emerged, just how many important questions there are facing the sport - questions that need to be answered if baseball is to safely stage a season.

Whether the health-and-safety measures the league is proposing go far enough to first be approved by the players and then keep them safe remains to be seen.

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No autographs, spitting or daily coronavirus blood tests under MLB proposal originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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