PHILADELPHIA — Faced with the first real crisis of playing a baseball season in the midst of an out-of-control pandemic, the Yankees players sent a powerful statement, Brian Cashman said. The players chose to scramble their schedule and head to Baltimore to continue playing while the Marlins and Phillies are quarantined to try and prevent further outbreaks of the coronavirus.
“When the dust settles whatever it is, it is. We want to compete. And if we’re off a day or two or a week or two, whatever it happens to be, so be it, we’ll deal with it, we’ll adjust to it, and then deploy our talent the best we possibly can and take our chances,” the Yankees GM said Tuesday afternoon. “We really are excited about the crew we have and, and we’re excited right now that we’ve avoided the COVID situation to put us in a position to play.
“I think the fact that our players said what they said today when they (decided) we’ll go to Baltimore, their attitude is. ‘Tell us where and we’ll be there.’ And that’s, I think, a very powerful statement by them.”
The Yankees season was scrambled Monday morning when multiple Marlins were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak of 17 members of their traveling party were quarantined in Philadelphia and their weekend opponent, the Phillies, were brought in for additional testing Monday. The Yankees, who were scheduled for two games in Citizens Bank Park and then two against the Phillies at home, had stayed in Philadelphia hoping that clear tests by the Phillies would allow them to play the second game here.
Instead, MLB paused the Marlins and Phillies schedules, something that had been recommended by epidemiologists who said it takes at least two to three days to detect the virus in testing. The Marlins will not play again until Monday and the Phillies are off until Friday.
The Yankees, however, scrambled to rearrange their travel plans and head to Baltimore to play the Orioles, who were originally scheduled to play the Marlins, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Marlins outbreak shook most of baseball. The Nationals players reportedly voted that they were not comfortable going into Miami for a series scheduled this weekend. Their manager Davey Martinez, who has a heart condition, said that the news made him very frightened.
Yankees union rep Zack Britton said the Yankees were prepared for this.
“I think coming into it we understood that there was going to be positive tests and there could be a team that had multiple positive tests, a significant amount like the Marlins, so I think everyone understood that this was a possibility,” Britton said. “The biggest thing is for us to continue following the protocols that we have in place. I feel like guys on our team are doing a good job. We can’t control what’s going on with other teams, but as long as we follow the rules, follow the protocols and take care of ourselves I think that we can minimize our exposure.”
In announcing the changes to the schedule, which did not even include game times for Wednesday or Thursday’s games, MLB emphasized that there were no new positive tests outside the Marlins. That is encouraging, because epidemiologists like Emory’s Zach Binney had said Monday on MLB Network radio that this would be a real test of how much risk of infection there is between competing teams on the field.
“In over 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, July 24th, there have been no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 Clubs. This outcome is in line with encouraging overall data since the June 27th start of testing. Through last Thursday, July 23rd, 99 of the 32,640 samples — 0.3% — had been positive,” the league announced in a press release.
Still, Phillies manager Joe Girardi indicated that his team would be tested for a few more days just to be safe.
The Yankees and Phillies could reschedule their games later in the season, but as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Cashman said nothing had been decided about the schedule going forward. All they knew is they had scrambled to get a hotel in Baltimore and were going to be able to get on the field Tuesday night for a workout.
These were the pivots that the team had talked about being able to handle if they were going to play this season.
“I’m sure there’s other teams that are able to handle different things but you know one of the conversations we had going into this that we always try to be prepared for adversity, we know adversity’s coming our way,” manager Aaron Boone said. “And 2020 is unlike anything we’ve all experienced and we know going into this we’re going to have to prepare for some uncomfortable situations, some difficult times, some difficult days, from a baseball standpoint, from a virus standpoint, from travels from inconveniences. I do feel like we are uniquely equipped to handle that.
“I think it’s one of those things that’s going to be critical if you’re going to have success on the baseball field this year is you’re going to have to be able to deal with the curveballs that can likely come on a daily and weekly basis.”
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