The situation continues to evolve rapidly in the United Starts regarding the response to the COVID-19 outbreak across the country, and plenty of news about how baseball is dealing with the issue over the weekend. Earlier today the first baseball-related illness was reported, with a minor league player from the New York Yankees testing positive for the coronavirus. The league has reportedly given a directive to clubs suggesting that players who are able return to their homes, but those who were members of the Yankees minor league camp will now be quarantined for two weeks.
David Stearns of the Milwaukee Brewers addressed the media earlier today via teleconference to talk about how the franchise is handling the situation. First off, according to Adam McCalvy, Stearns urged everyone not to lose sight of the fact that there are matters far more important than the pause of sports. Stearns also said that about one-third of the team is staying at the Spring Training complex, one-third is back in Milwaukee, and the final third has returned to their offseason homes. Per Will Sammon of The Athletic, assistants Pat Murphy, Steve Karsay, Jason Lane, and Jacob Cruz live in Arizona (along with some minor league instructors) and will be available at the Spring Training facility for those who want to work out there. Otherwise, there will be only a “skeleton staff” at the facility and no formal or organized sessions. Manager Craig Counsell and assistants Marcus Hanel and Ed Seder live around Milwaukee and will be available in a similar capacity at Miller Park for the players in Milwaukee.
No Brewers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Stearns, but both the Spring Training facility as well as Miller Park are undergoing thorough deep cleaning processes. The executive says that the club is following CDC protocols when it comes to testing, meaning that only those showing symptoms are being checked. He said it was an inevitability that a professional baseball player would test positive (regarding the Yankees farmhand) and that the decision to allow players to go their own way was a wise one, given CDC recommendations regarding social distancing. Stearns said that all minor leaguers have been sent home, with the exception of a few international players who are from foreign countries with travel issues.
Regarding the pay for minor league players as well as part-time workers who staff the Spring Training stadium as well as Miller Park, Stearns says that the organization is having on-going discussions. “We understand this is a crisis that is affecting large segments of our community...and we are going to be sensitive to that.”
The MLBPA informed players they should consider living where they feel most comfortable for “at least” the next 4-6 weeks, according to sources. “There’s still a ton of uncertainty and this is evolving in real time each day,” one source said.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 15, 2020
Stearns had no guess on whether or not a full season would be able to be played or if there would be a shortened schedule, but speculation nationally from over the weekend suggests that the expectation is that at this point, games won’t be played until at least May. He couldn’t say whether or not Spring Training would be resumed at some point before regular season games would be played, nor where such exhibition games would take place. “That has not been determined.”