Jays close Dunedin facility after player becomes ill
As Major League Baseball works to begin a shortened season, five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the club announced on Friday.
The players were training at the team’s facility in Clearwater, Fla. Twelve staff members and 20 major league and minor league players living in the Clearwater area are awaiting results of their tests.
The Toronto Blue Jays have shut down their spring training facility in nearby Dunedin after a player exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, sources told ESPN.
According to ESPN columnist Jeff Passan, the player exhibiting the symptoms is a pitcher on the 40-man roster who recently had spent time with players in the Phillies minor leagues system.
He’s been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results.
Multiple players working out at the Blue Jays facility said they hadn’t yet been tested, Passan tweeted. If the player isn’t an isolated case, testing will ramp up.
“We are being overly pre-cautious with testing,” Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins told ESPN.
Meanwhile, TSN reported the Tampa Bay Lightning had to close their training facilities because multiple players and staffers tested positive. The NHL plans to begin training camps July 10.
“The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority,” Phillies owner John Middleton said, “and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff, and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected.”
The club declined to comment on how this outbreak could affect the Phillies’ 2020 season. This is the first MLB team with a known outbreak.
The coronavirus forced MLB to suspend spring training in March and postpone opening day, which was scheduled for March 26. MLB and the players union are working to settle disputes over compensating players for a shortened season played without fans in attendance.
The players association on Thursday delivered to MLB a proposal for a season with around 70 games.
Coronavirus cases have spiked in Florida, where 15 MLB teams hold spring training. Major League Soccer and the National Basketball Association are planning to resume play in July with games near Orlando. The WNBA will play a 22-game season in Bradenton, Fla.
Florida had more than 3,800 cases on Friday, the state’s highest single-day total.
MLS will return on July 8 with a leaguewide tournament held without spectators at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 26 clubs will play in groupstage matches followed by knockout rounds. All teams will stay at a Disney resort and will have no contact with the public.
Teams will begin arriving in Florida on June 24.
The NBA’S board of governors approved a plan to resume the season in July with 22 teams playing at the Disney sports complex.