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Tampa Bay Rays News and Notes: MLB waits for other shoe to drop

Meanwhile, Rays continue winning ways

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Tampa Bay Rays Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Tuesday night, their winning streak now at four games. This puts them in first place in the American League East. You can read more about last night’s game here.

Season hanging by a thread, cont.

I had hoped that I would be able to write a View from the Catwalk column which didn’t focus on the coronavirus. I know this pandemic will be with us for a while but I have really enjoyed being able to focus a little on baseball, and hoped we could be fighting over the use of the four man outfield and little else.

But that is not to be. At first the only positive tests were from players and staff returning from their homes; the weeks of summer camp went by with few new COVID-19 cases. But just a few games into the season, the Miami Marlins have reported at last count some 17 new cases, mostly among players but also including a few members of the staff. The Marlins had been playing in Philadelphia when this was revealed. As a result, the Phillies were all tested; the clubhouse assistant in the visitor’s clubhouse tested positive, but thus far no one else on the Phillies appear to have been affected (keep in mind that tests performed immediately after infection can yield false negatives).

One of the glaring holes in MLB’s process is that there an approximately 48 hour period between a player getting tested and receiving results. This means there will always be men on the field who are waiting for test results — which could end up as positive. Players who are symptomatic can be sent home while awaiting test results, but so many players have been asymptomatic. Absent reliable instant COVID-19 tests, there is always some risk that an infected player is sitting in the dugout. This is why maintaining distancing protocols remains so crucial.

As of this writing, MLB has taken the following steps: They have put the Marlins on “pause,” and cancelled or rearranged games involving Miami as well as some games between the Phillies and Yankees as Phillies players await additional testing.

Even if the league decides to forge ahead with the season, will players and coaches rethink their participation? Davey Martinez, for example, suffers from heart disease and is worried about what would happen if he were to get infected. The Nationals team voted not to travel to Miami for a planned series out of concern for their health — the decision to shut the Marlins down makes this, in any case, moot.

My guess is that whether we have a season moving forward very much depends on whether this outbreak seems to be confined to the Marlins, in which case games can go on around them, or whether we see hotspots among other teams. Stay tuned!

Charlie Morton has a pretty fatalistic approach to this pandemic! But his message of taking care of yourself and considering the needs of your teammates can’t hurt:

Manager arguments in an age of COVID-19 (and old friend alert — we see you Derek Shelton):

Elie Mystal is a legal affairs writer for The Nation; he’s also a Mets fan. And he thinks the current season teetering on the precipice is not surprising.

Baseball links and tweets NOT about COVID