OAKLAND >> The news of the outbreak of coronavirus among the Miami Marlins sent shockwaves across baseball, all the way to the Angels on the opposite coast.
“When something like that happens it makes everyone a tick more nervous than they already are,” Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “You feel for your fellow baseball guys when something like that happens.”
The Marlins had their game on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles postponed. The Philadelphia Phillies, who played the Marlins over the weekend in Philadelphia, also had their game against the New York Yankees on Monday postponed.
Although developments like that certainly cast questions over the viability of the season, Angels manager Joe Maddon didn’t want to rush to judgment without knowing the source of the Marlins outbreak.
“Well my first thought is I think it’s really important to trace how it occurred,” Maddon said Monday morning, before the Angels played the Oakland A’s “That’s the one thing we need to know first before we jump to a lot of different conclusions. To me if there was a breach of protocol by any of those players, then it’s more easily explainable. And if not, then it becomes more problematic I think. So, I would just wait and see.”
Maddon said he’d had limited conversations with players on Monday morning. He had not spoken with Mike Trout, who had expressed reservations about playing at the start of camp but fewer concerns just before the season.
Patrick Sandoval, who recovered from a bout with COVID-19 in June, said that players are watching closely what happens with the Marlins and the Phillies.
“You could tell everyone is concerned about it,” Sandoval said. “No one knows what’s going to happen.”
Major League Baseball began the season playing under health and safety protocols outlined in a document more than 100 pages long. They mandate that players wear masks whenever not performing on the field or working out. There are restrictions on everything from spitting to requiring that players retrieve their own cap and gloves from the dugout, rather than having a teammate bring them.
Although the players are left to regulate their own behavior away from the ballpark, Angels players have said so far that they are all taking their safety seriously. This weekend marked the Angels’ first trip that required a flight and overnight stay.
The Angels stayed the past four nights in San Francisco and Maddon said he didn’t believe any players ventured out. He said he’s worked with traveling secretary Tom Taylor to try to have an extra room on the road for players to congregate, rather than going out.
So far only three Angels players have confirmed they tested positive for the coronavirus, and all three — Sandoval, Matt Thaiss and Julio Teheran — said they tested positive in June. They have all rejoined the team, and Sandoval and Thaiss are both active.
The Angels had six other players who were unable to initially report to camp, for reasons the team couldn’t disclose. All of them have now joined the team. One player, reliever Parker Markel, was active when camp began but has since been placed on the injured list for unknown reasons.
Teams need the player’s consent in order to disclose the reason a player is unavailable if it’s not a physical injury, although there are non-playing conditions that go beyond coronavirus.
Through it all, Maddon had maintained optimism in baseball’s ability to navigate around the virus, because he believed the protocols were stringent and the players would follow them.
The news on Monday changed that only slightly.
“Of course it knocks you on your heels a little bit,” Maddon said. “You can’t deny that, but you need the retracing in order to find out exactly why everybody believes this occurred. I think is really important right now.”