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COVID-19 outbreak among Miami Marlins has Washington Nationals manager "scared"

MLB scrambles to contain COVID-19 outbreak 04:50

Five days into the delayed Major League Baseball season, the commissioner says games will continue after more than a dozen players and staff on the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19. Four players sat out Sunday's game in Philadelphia against the Phillies after testing positive.

Now, the number of positive cases has reportedly jumped to at least 13.

"Every day we're taking risks. So, that's what the players all around the league are doing," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "Everybody, you know, as they talked it over today, they wanted to play."

The Marlins outbreak is creating a ripple effect across the league. On Monday night, Major League Baseball postponed the Marlins-Orioles and Yankees-Phillies games as a precaution.

"This is literally the sport's worst nightmare," said Jayson Stark, a senior baseball writer for the sports journalism site The Athletic. "Baseball had a plan. It has 113 pages worth of protocols, so it has plans that deal with almost everything, but there's no specific language that deals with a situation quite like this where you have multiple infections on one team."

Commissioner Rob Manfred said owners have not yet considered canceling or suspending the season.

"I don't put this in the 'nightmare' category," he said. "We expected we were going to have positives at some point in time. I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to continue to play."

His comments come as managers and players remain concerned for their safety.

"I'm going to be honest with you, I'm scared," said Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez. 

Last year he missed at least three games after undergoing a heart procedure.

"This is my family, you know, and I worry about these guys. I worry about everybody around us. I don't want anybody to get sick," Martinez said.

Baseball veteran David Price, who opted out of this season, voiced his frustration on Twitter, writing: "Part of the reason I'm at home right now is because players health wasn't being put first. I can see that hasn't changed." 

"Major League Baseball needs to be upfront with its players and the public right now that they cannot guarantee that the Marlins present a safe environment right now," said Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. 

Binney said the Marlins should quarantine for two weeks, but it's premature to suspend the whole season.

"So far what you've seen is a disaster in one market and one team, but if you were to see something like this again happen on a second team, I think you'd have to think very seriously about it," Binney said.

Manfred said Tuesday's Marlins game was also postponed, but he hopes they can play Wednesday in Baltimore. 

"The health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus," Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said.  

No other teams are currently under quarantine.

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