Dr. Anthony Fauci fears the growing outbreak of the coronavirus within the Miami Marlins could threaten the 2020 baseball season.
Fauci said Tuesday on “Good Morning America” that Major League Baseball still has time to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“This could put it in danger,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”
The Marlins completed a three-game series in Philadelphia on Sunday but opted not to fly back to Miami after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by positive tests. The team’s home opener against the Baltimore Orioles was cancelled.
“Major League Baseball — the players, the owners, the managers — have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,” Fauci said. “It’s very unfortunate what happened with the Miami [Marlins].”
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Commissioner Rob Manfred solely has the power to postpone the season. Individual teams are given the leeway to postpone or cancel games as the Marlins and Phillies did on Monday. MLB Network reported that the Phillies also postponed Tuesday night’s home game against the New York Yankees.
“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change,” Manfred said. “Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances. Same thing with respect to league-wide. You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat, and we certainly would shut down at that point.”
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who was sidelined during the 2019 season with a heart issue, said Monday night he was “scared” by the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The Nationals are scheduled to visit the Marlins this weekend. Martinez said his level of concern went from “an 8 to a 12” after hearing of the outbreak with the Marlins.
“I am scared, I really am,” Martinez said.