MLB closes all training sites as fears of COVID-19 put season into further doubt

FILE PHOTO: Fans watch as the Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankes at Target Field in Minneapolis
FILE PHOTO: Fans watch as the Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankes at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo

With coronavirus infections on the rise in Florida and Arizona, Major League Baseball is closing all spring training sites to have them undergo thorough cleaning, multiple media outlets reported late Friday night.

Earlier Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants shut down their training facilities due to positive tests for the coronavirus, and the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels announced that players had contracted COVID-19.

The spread of the virus at baseball facilities coincides with statewide spikes in both Florida and Arizona.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed an additional 3,822 cases on Friday — the highest number of reported cases in the state in a single day. Arizona also saw a single-day high of 3,246 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, per the state’s Department of Health Services.

The Phillies closed their Clearwater, Fla., campus after five players and three staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Blue Jays shut their training site in nearby Dunedin, Fla., after a player exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, multiple media outlets reported.

The Giants’ camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., was closed after a person who recently was on site as well as a family member came down with symptoms of the coronavirus. Test results for COVID-19 were pending, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told The Athletic.

The Astros stated in a press release that an unnamed player who had been training at the team’s West Palm Beach, Fla., facility tested positive. According to the team, the player dealt with only minor symptoms and was making a smooth recovery.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler told reporters that the organization had two players with COVID-19, but he would not say whether they were major-leaguers or minor-leaguers.

The Phillies did not identify the affected players or staff members. In the case of the Blue Jays, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the player who tested positive is a pitcher on the 40-man roster who recently had been with the club’s minor-leaguers.

Philadelphia managing partner John Middleton said in a statement, “The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority, and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected.

Per the Phillies, the team’s first confirmed case occurred on Tuesday. Eight staff members tested negative while 32 others (20 players, 12 staff members) were awaiting test results.

Astros general manager James Click said in a statement of the team have a player contract the virus, “The safety of our staff and players remains our top priority. We were fortunate to be able to take swift action once we learned of the player testing positive and we are pleased that there were no other players that tested positive.”

MLB and the MLB Players Association are still wrangling over the terms of starting the 2020 season.

–Field Level Media