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Rob Manfred believes coronavirus protocols can work, blames outbreaks on 'deviations' from protocol

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred believes most players are listening to and following the league’s recommended coronavirus protocols. Manfred said players have “done a good job” adhering to those rules, and that the two outbreaks in the league occurred because teams deviated from the league’s protocol, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

Manfred did not specify what led to coronavirus outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, but he did say those teams strayed from the league’s recommendations.

"We believe, in the two serious outbreaks, that we can identify deviations from the protocols that resulted in the situations that we had," Manfred stated. "The key is vigilance. Its vigilance on the part of the commissioner's office, club officials, players and everyone involved in the game."

Over half the Marlins roster tested positive for coronavirus. There was a report suggesting Marlins players went to a hotel bar, which may have contributed to the outbreak. Marlins owner Derek Jeter refuted that story, but admitted some around the team were lax in following protocols.

The Cardinals have dealt with 13 positive tests. Seven of those positives are from players and the other six are from team staff. After quarantining in Milwaukee for days, the Cardinals were cleared to travel back to St. Louis late Tuesday night. After nearly a week off, the team is expected to resume play Friday against the Chicago Cubs.

Rob Manfred reverses course after putting blame on the players

Manfred’s comments praising players for taking the situation seriously comes as a surprise after Manfred called out the players Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Manfred warned the MLBPA the season could be canceled if the league could not contain the virus. The following day, Manfred said he intends to keep playing, and that players need to take responsibility and follow protocols.

Some players took issue with that comment, stressing that some teams are taking things seriously. Chicago Cubs outfielder Steven Souza Jr. both called on other players to do better, and criticized Manfred for the way he handled the situation. One anonymous player condemned the Marlins, and called on the league to issue stricter regulations.

MLB is making changes to its coronavirus protocols

In an effort to prevent another outbreak, the league already tweaked its protocols. Players will be required to wear surgical masks while traveling and encouraged to remain in their seats on the team plane. On top of that, meals will be spaced out during travel to ensure players sitting in the same row do not have their masks down at the same time.

The league, however, will not adopt a daily testing schedule. Manfred believes the benefits of doing so would be relatively small, according to ESPN.

"We have thought about it," he stated. "The advice we're getting from our medical experts is that the additional benefit from testing every day is really, really small due to the incubation period."

Despite dealing with a number of positive tests since the league restarted, Manfred believes the protocols “remain viable as a mechanism to keep our players safe."

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