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July 27, 2020

Report: Monday's Phillies-Yankees game postponed in wake of Marlins COVID-19 outbreak

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Phillies-summer-training-citizens-bank-park_070620_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

The Phillies have gotten back to work at Citizens Bank Park.

Monday's game between the Phillies and Yankees has been canceled following the COVID-19 outbreak in the Miami Marlins clubhouse, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported on Monday. The Marlins, who visited Citizens Bank Park over the weekend, are up to 14 cases of COVID-19 following another round of testing.

Jim Salisbury further clarified that the game was technically "postponed" for the time being, though that's certainly a fluid situation with the scale of the outbreak in the Marlins' clubhouse.

Major League Baseball released a statement on the matter late Monday morning:

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.

Four players from Miami were pulled from the roster before Sunday's series finale at Citizens Bank Park, including their presumed starting pitcher for the game, who was scratched an hour before the first pitch. 12 out of 30 rostered players have now tested positive, leaving the Marlins in a state of crisis.

The Marlins have been forced to remain in Philadelphia for the time being as a result. After a weekend of close contact with Phillies players, it's now anyone's guess how the Phillies' organization will be impacted by this. Jayson Stark of The Athletic spoke to an infectious disease expert over the weekend, and he believes the Phillies should be constantly testing in the weeks to come.

Inside the clubhouse, Miami's approach to their weekend in Philadelphia appears to have been a source of unease in the Philadelphia clubhouse. With assistance from Rosenthal, Matt Gelb of The Athletic spoke with people in the organization who saw a casual approach from the Marlins during opening weekend, describing some Phillies as "alarmed" by Miami's indifference to guidelines on staggered arrivals and mask-wearing.

And as Gelb laid out in his story, a healthy portion of dealing with this new spike in cases might fall on the Phillies' shoulders, independent from whether they can resume play or not:

The league said it was conducting additional testing, but it might have no choice but to pause the seasons of the Phillies and Marlins until more information is gathered. All Phillies players and staff were being tested again Monday, according to three sources, and the turnaround time for those results could prompt Tuesday’s game to be postponed as well. MLB is attempting to squeeze a 60-game schedule into 66 days and, if postponements mount, the season’s completion is far more precarious. 

If the Marlins, after added testing, decide to travel with those who have negative tests, the treatment and care of those Marlins personnel left behind might fall to the Phillies. Every team, according to a source, had to form a “COVID-19 Action Plan” that addressed scenarios for infected individuals on opposing clubs. That plan required the Phillies to identify a hotel that would house infected players who must isolate. Some of the treatment and care for those opposing players would be handled by the Phillies’ team physician. [The Athletic]

It's fairest to say at this juncture we have no idea how this will impact the upcoming week(s) for the Phillies, with testing to be done and decisions to be made at a higher level than the Phillies' clubhouse. While immediate attention will be paid to the roster, stadium employees and those in close contact with the Marlins over the weekend are waiting for their own test results, adding problems in day-to-day operations at the ballpark. Gelb reported Monday that the Yankees opted to bring their own clubhouse staff from New York down to Philadelphia, with that group handling the Yankees' equipment rather than the clubhouse staff who had been in close proximity to the Marlins all weekend.

Major League Baseball, which has been chided in some circles for carrying on with a plan that still necessitates traveling, may be forced into some uncomfortable decisions. Two Major League Soccer teams were forced to withdraw from the league's bubble restart in Florida after outbreaks were flagged upon arrival at the bubble site. Would MLB consider a similar choice to try to preserve the season for the rest of the league, and is that example even relevant for a league that is not operating on a single site, closed environment basis?

The wheels already seem to be in motion for further postponement and cancellations. ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported Monday afternoon that discussions about delaying Tuesday's Phillies-Yankees game are already taking place.

There's also the matter of replacing impacted players and staff if the teams and the league carry on, which suddenly is a huge problem for the Marlins. It's putting the cart before the horse to discuss that possibility for the Phillies at this juncture, but it's a more urgent discussion now than it was just a few days ago.

There's a lot left for the Phillies and for Major League Baseball to figure out and eventually act on. We'll keep you in the loop with further updates and developments as they're made available.

This story is developing...

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