An apparent coronavirus outbreak was underway in the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park and the Marlins responded by asking their shortstop to determine if the game against the Phillies would be played.
“He’s kind of an unofficial team captain of our club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Miguel Rojas. “He’s always texting the group and getting the feelings of the group. So when we’re dealing with situations or things, that’s usually who we’re working through.”
Major League Baseball issued a 113-page operations manual to all club employees before the start of the season. It outlines everything from on-field rules to testing procedures and what happens if a player tests positive. But Sunday afternoon, the status of the game amid a coronavirus outbreak was decided by a group text-message between Marlins players.
“We made the decision that we’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can,” Rojas said.
But did the Marlins ever consider not playing?
“That was never the mentality,” Rojas said. “We knew that this would happen at some point. We came to the ballpark and we were ready to play. That was never our thought that we weren’t going to play.”
The operations manual says that after a player tests positive for COVID-19, the club must conduct contact tracing to identify the individuals who had close contact with the infected individual. The Marlins flew together to Philadelphia from Atlanta, traveled by bus to a Center City hotel, traveled by bus to the ballpark, dressed in the clubhouse, and sat in the dugout.
It could be easily argued that every Marlins player and staff member came in close contact over the weekend with the infected players. If so, the operations manual says those individuals should be quarantined or isolated pending the results of an Expedited Diagnostic Test, which the Marlins received Sunday morning. Instead of quarantining and thus postponing Sunday’s game, the Marlins played a 3-hour, 44-minute game against the Phillies and then learned Monday morning that eight additional players had tested positive.