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With multiple teams around Major League Baseball announcing players have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the league is temporarily closing all spring training facilities for cleaning purposes.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported the league was “strongly considering” the move while it worked to “reestablish a system in which players will test regularly when they return.”
The Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays each confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus among their athletes Friday.
The Phillies already closed their facilities in Clearwater, Florida, on Friday after five players and three staff members tested positive.
Phillies owner John Middleton said in a statement:
“The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority. As a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected.”
Shortly after Philadelphia’s disclosure, the Blue Jays announced they were closing their Dunedin, Florida, campus because a player showing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus:
“The Toronto Blue Jays confirm that personnel at the club’s Spring Training facilities in Dunedin, Fla., have undergone testing for COVID-19, after a player presented symptoms consistent with those of the virus. The Blue Jays are following protocols put in place for this scenario, including guidelines from MLB and the club’s medical team. As a result, the Blue Jays have suspended operations at their Dunedin facilities for the time being.”
According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the Texas Rangers are closing their facilities in Arizona until testing protocols are installed.
The Astros, meanwhile, announced one player at their West Palm Beach, Florida, facility tested positive but that they will still allow athletes to train at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
That confirmed cases are popping up around MLB hubs could make resuming the season more complicated (especially, as Sherman notes, without a universally mandated testing and safety protocol).
Major League Baseball has been on hiatus since March 12, and the league and players union remain gridlocked in a bitter negotiation over a deal to resume the season. While much of the focus of the bargaining sessions has been on owners haggling for reduced player salaries, the sides have yet to agree on the type of regulations that would help safeguard against outbreaks of the coronavirus throughout the league.