M.L.B. created a 113-page set of protocols for teams before it resumed play, and its officials had been encouraged by the fact that, until Friday, only one team — the Miami Marlins — had any players who tested positive. But the Marlins’ outbreak, which has widened to include 18 players, has devastated its roster, and the Cardinals’ news sent a sobering signal of the complications in staging a 60-game season, with extensive travel, during a pandemic.
“We have a lot of really smart people working on this, a number of committed players who want to play through this, but everybody wants to play safely,” Mark Attanasio, the Brewers’ principal owner, said during a news conference at Miller Park. “If we’re not smart and safe, we’ll fail. But we’re going to do everything we can not to fail.”
The league’s investigators have been probing the cause of the Marlins’ outbreak, and a person briefed on the findings said that players were found to have gone out in Atlanta, where the Marlins played exhibition games last Tuesday and Wednesday. The person was granted anonymity because the league has not yet released its findings, the details of which were first reported by Bleacher Report.
While the Marlins’ behavior was not entirely surprising, their outbreak was a clear warning to players, a point Commissioner Rob Manfred reiterated Friday in a conversation with Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, as reported by ESPN. Manfred emphasized that players must stay vigilant about following safety protocols or risk ending the season.
“It’s definitely in a lot of guys’ minds, that’s for sure,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, adding that the Cardinals’ news had been discouraging. “We all want to play,” he said, “and the guys here in our clubhouse, as we get going, know the importance of sticking together and being as prudent as possible away from the field and at the field.”