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First round of 2019 All-Star Game finalists has been revealed

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While the final All-Star Game rosters won’t be locked in for several more weeks, we’re starting to get an idea of the players who will be in the running for the starting lineups. On Friday, MLB Network revealed the top three picks at each position, with pitchers and reserve players to be announced on Sunday at 5:30 PM EDT.

American League Finalists

C – Robinson Chirinos (Astros), Gary Sánchez (Yankees), James McCann (White Sox)

1B – Luke Voit (Yankees), C.J. Cron (Twins), Carlos Santana (Indians)

2B – DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), José Altuve (Astros), Tommy La Stella (Angels)

3B – Hunter Dozier (Royals), Alex Bregman (Astros), Gio Urshela (Yankees)

SS – Gleyber Torres (Yankees), Carlos Correa (Astros), Jorge Polanco (Twins)

OF – Mookie Betts (Red Sox), George Springer (Astros), Mike Trout (Angels)

OF – Michael Brantley (Astros), Aaron Judge (Yankees), Austin Meadows (Rays)

OF – Josh Reddick (Astros), Eddie Rosario (Twins), Joey Gallo (Rangers)

DH – Hunter Pence (Rangers), Nelson Cruz (Twins), J.D. Martinez (Red Sox)

Unsurprisingly, the Astros lead the pack with seven finalists — one in every category but first base and DH. The Yankees are a close second with six, while the Twins pulled four nominations, the Angels, Rangers, and Red Sox two each, and the White Sox, Indians, Royals, and Rays managed one apiece.

National League Finalists

C – Willson Contreras (Cubs), Brian McCann (Braves), Yasmani Grandal (Brewers)

1B – Josh Bell (Pirates), Anthony Rizzo (Cubs), Freddie Freeman (Braves)

2B – Mike Moustakas (Brewers), Ozzie Albies (Braves), Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks)

3B – Nolan Arenado (Rockies), Kris Bryant (Cubs), Josh Donaldson (Braves)

SS – Javier Báez (Cubs), Dansby Swanson (Braves), Trevor Story (Rockies)

OF – Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), Christian Yelich (Brewers), Ronald Acuña (Braves)

OF – Albert Almora Jr. (Cubs), Jason Heyward (Cubs), Nick Markakis (Braves)

OF – Joc Pederson (Dodgers), Kyle Schwarber (Cubs), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)

The Braves and Cubs are tied with seven finalists each, followed by the Rockies and Brewers (3), Dodgers (2), and Pirates and Diamondbacks (1).

Finalists will be selected at each position when the next round of voting opens up on Wednesday, June 26, and the results are scheduled to be announced on Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 PM EDT. The Midsummer Classic will be managed by the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts and Red Sox’ Alex Cora and is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.