Marlins postpone home opener because of coronavirus outbreak on team

Miami was scheduled to host Baltimore Monday and Tuesday but both games are off

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly watches a scrimmage at Marlins Park on July 12. (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – The Miami Marlins’ home opener against the Baltimore Orioles has been postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak affecting more than a dozen people with the team.

They won’t play Tuesday either, as the Orioles are leaving Miami to return home. The teams were scheduled to play Monday and Tuesday at Marlins Park and then Wednesday and Thursday in Baltimore.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said it’s possible the teams will play Wednesday, depending on the results of tests.

Nine Marlins players on the 30-man roster, two taxi squad players and two staff members tested positive, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the results hadn’t been publicly disclosed.

The infections are believed to include four players — Jorge Alfaro, Jose Urena, Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper — who had reportedly tested positive within the last few days.

“The health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus as we navigate through these unchartered waters,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in a statement. “After a successful Spring 2.0, we have now experienced challenges once we went on the road and left Miami.

“Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation. We have conducted another round of testing for our players and staff, and our team will all remain in Philadelphia pending the results of those tests, which we expect later today. We will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

The Marlins won two of three games in their opening weekend series in Philadelphia, despite the news of positive tests. After Sunday’s win, manager Don Mattingly announced the Marlins would stay overnight in Philadelphia as a precaution to wait for the next round of results.

The plan was to have the members of the team who tested negative to travel to Miami to play the home opener on Monday night against Baltimore.

When news broke this morning that it was a significant amount of positive tests, the decision was made to cancel the game and have the team remain in Philadelphia until more tests were done.

“The guys that tested positive are quarantined here in Philly,” Mattingly said on Sunday. “We were more comfortable flying as a group later,” Mattingly said. “We’re talking about these guys traveling back home to their families and their kids, and it’s the reason we want to be safe.”

It’s unclear when the Marlins received the latest positive test results. Some players texted each other about the team’s health issues before Sunday’s game, but there was no talk of declining to play, shortstop Miguel Rojas said.

“That was never our mentality,” Rojas said. “We knew this could happen at some point. We came to the ballpark ready to play.”

The Marlins’ precarious health raised anew doubts about MLB’s ability to finish the season during a pandemic.

Tonight’s Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia, at the ballpark where the Marlins spent the weekend, has also been postponed.

Major League Baseball released the following statement:

“Tonight’s scheduled games between the Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles at Marlins Park and the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees at Citizens Bank Park have been postponed while Major League Baseball conducts additional COVID-19 testing. The members of the Marlins’ traveling party are self-quarantining in place while awaiting the outcome of those results. Major League Baseball has been coordinating with the Major League Baseball Players Association; the Marlins; the Orioles; the Marlins’ weekend opponent, the Phillies; and Club medical staffs, and will continue to provide updates as appropriate.”

The Marlins played exhibition games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Braves, who have since been without their top two catchers, Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, after both players showed symptoms of COVID-19.

In Cincinnati, the Reds’ Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel felt sick Sunday, a day after a teammate went on the injured list because he tested positive for COVID-19.

If the Marlins continue their season, they’ll rely heavily on reinforcements from their training camp in Jupiter. Because there are no minor league games this season, teams are allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad of up to three players for every road trip, giving them immediate options to replace an ailing player.

About the Author:

Will Manso came back home to South Florida when he joined Local 10 in March of 1999. During his time here, Will has kept busy by working in sports, news and he's even dabbled in entertainment. He is now Local 10's sports director and also enjoys the chance to serve as host for special shows on Local 10.