In the middle of a bitter labor dispute that is already threatening to scrap the 2020 season entirely (such an unfortunate outcome, according to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, now appears virtually inevitable), several Phillies players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
As Florida experiences a major outbreak that is threatening to make the state into one of the new hotspots, alongside Texas and Arizona, five Phillies players who had been training at the team’s facility in Clearwater, Florida have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
In addition to the five players, three staff members have tested positive, though the identities of those infected aren’t known.
Even before the labor dispute took a turn for the worse, owners feared a rash of player and staff infections that could force the league to abandon a hoped-for July 4 start date for a 50-game abbreviated season. Now, a “significant number of team personnel” are awaiting test results, a sign that the numbers could rise in the next day or two.
None of the eight people who have been infected have been hospitalized; all apparently have pretty mild infections.
The outbreak in Clearwater is the first known instance involving MLB players and the commissioner’s office is aware of it. It is not known if the situation will affect negotiations with the union, though both sides have insisted that health issues trump all financial considerations.
The Phillies closed their Spectrum Field facility in mid-March when the sporting world shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis. At the time, the facility was thoroughly cleaned.
“I’m not trying to scare anyone, but this is real and it spreads quickly and easily and people need to know,” said one person who knows some of the Phillies personnel who has tested positive.