According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Toronto Blue Jays have suspended activities at their Dunedin, Florida spring training facility after a pitcher on the 40-man roster reported symptoms of COVID-19. Passan further reports that he is currently awaiting results of his tests.
The Blue Jays 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, according to sources. He has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 19, 2020
This follows a report earlier today where NBC Sports’ Jim Salisbury reported that five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staff members, training eight kilometres south in Clearwater, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. A press release from the Phillies indicates that a total of 20 players and 12 staff are also being tested.
The State of Florida is experiencing a spike of COVID-19 cases, with 3,200 new cases reported yesterday, according to the New York Times. Pinellas County, which includes both Clearwater, Dunedin, and St. Petersburg, has had 3,100 total cases so far. In nearby Tampa, several Lightning players and staff have also reportedly tested positive, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
Furthermore, Pinellas County’s bars and restaurants are already open, and the general population is reportedly not following physical distancing and mask-wearing suggestions.
I'm currently in Pinellas County. Bars and restaurants are open for business, and let me tell you, people are going to them. Here in Clearwater, the bars by the beach are absolutely jam packed at night, people spilling out onto the street. Not a mask in sight. https://t.co/hJH8QhsnBO— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) June 19, 2020
Late last night, Shi Davidi reported that Mark Shapiro has been added to a registry of lobbyists as the Blue Jays are attempting to convince the Government of Canada to allow major league players and personnel be exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement of those who enter Canada from abroad.
Davidi also reports that the club is making preparations to upgrade the lighting at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark to allow for night games to be played in case they are not able to play in Toronto. The numbers of coronavirus cases coming out of Florida may force the Blue Jays to look elsewhere to play their home games if Toronto is not an option.
The number of Phillies personnel who tested positive, despite supposedly having followed infection prevention protocols in camp, should give pause to both teams and the players in their quest to start the season as soon as possible. Both the players and fans—if not all the owners—want to see Major League Baseball back in action, but whether their health protocols are adequate to keep personnel safe is an open question.
Despite the recent focus on the labour and financial complexities needed to start the season, we need to remember that there is still an epidemic happening on this planet. I would love to see the Blue Jays take the field again at Rogers Centre, but the risks that travelling around North America poses to both baseball and stadium personnel as well as the general populace in MLB cities, seems to be too high at the moment.
In happier news, our site manager Tom Dakers tested negative for COVID-19. He and his family had gone for testing on Monday and received the results on Wednesday.