By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Thanks to a lengthy labor dispute between team owners and players, Major League Baseball got a bit of a late start to its effort to return to the field in 2020. One might have assumed that the extra time could have been used to establish some rock-solid plans and protocols for player testing … but to do so, one would have assumed wrong.READ MORE: New Memorial In Worcester Honors Firefighters Killed In Line Of Duty
A story reported by Brittany Ghiroli for The Athletic laid out some major issues with MLB’s process for testing players for the coronavirus.
The report noted that in many cases, it takes 48 hours or longer for teams to receive results for their player tests. The Oakland A’s had to cancel position player workouts on Sunday because the team hadn’t yet received results for testing from days prior. The story also noted that the Red Sox’ intake test results weren’t included when MLB sent out a statement on positive tests around the league, because the team’s testing was not complete.
The Athletic’s Alex Coffey later reported that the A’s still do not know when they can open their facility to all players.
“As of late Sunday night, the COVID-19 tests for the A’s position players were in San Francisco, waiting to be shipped to Major League Baseball’s lab in Salt Lake City,” Coffey reported.
Both stories noted that the July Fourth holiday complicated some of the shipping aspects of the process, but that’s something MLB could have perhaps planned for ahead of time.
A’s general manager David Forst was “livid” that his team’s full-squad workout abilities have been delayed by the testing. Additionally, Nats general Mike Rizzo expressed great concern with the league’s testing system.READ MORE: 2 Extricated From Car After Crash In Medford
“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Friday, July 3rd. Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning,” Rizzo said Monday. “We will not sacrifice the health and safefty of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 season are at risk.”
Likewise, the Astros canceled their workouts on Monday, as they await their test results.
Sources: The Astros canceled their workout today. They are still awaiting their results from Friday’s COVID-19 tests.
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) July 6, 2020
Meanwhile, the people in charge of administering tests for the Astros, Angels and one other team just … did not show up to work over the weekend. (Players are supposed to be tested every other day.)
The Athletic also learned from sources that testers did not show for Angels and two other, unidentified clubs Sunday. Angels players did saliva tests on their own; team shipped tests to lab in Utah. Monday workout pushed back from 9 am PT noon to make sure testers are present. https://t.co/BGD0FQGmGr
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 6, 2020
Astros were not tested either Saturday or Sunday, sources tell me and @jakemkaplan. Testers also did not show Sunday for Angels and one, other unidentified club. Tests resume for Astros today.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 6, 2020
Additionally, some teams have not received the personal protection equipment which MLB promised them.
“There’s a lot of players right now trying to make decisions that might be participating in camp that aren’t 100 percent comfortable with where things are at right now,” Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle said over the weekend. “I’m planning on playing, but if at any point I start to feel unsafe, if it starts to take a toll on my mental health with all these things that we have to worry about and just kind of this cloud of uncertainty hanging over everything, then I’ll opt out.”
This is all … not ideal. To say the least.
And with some high-profile names opting out of the 2020 season with some other high-profile names speaking out about their serious concerns for safety, the early returns are not great on MLB’s efforts to return to games by the end of the month.MORE NEWS: 'Loss Of A Beautiful Boy': Candlelight Vigil Held In Memory Of 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
With a big TV special planned Monday night for an announcement of teams’ schedules, and with games planned to begin in just a few short weeks, MLB will need to remedy this situation quickly if it hopes to maintain a belief among players and fans that a season will actually be feasible.