Rob Manfred
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Rob Manfred outlines testing plan when MLB returns

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on CNN Thursday evening with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, providing some details about how the league plans to operate if and when the 2020 season begins. The highlights:

  • Manfred is “hopeful” that we will see MLB games this summer — in empty stadiums
  • Protocol regarding health and safety is 80 pages long
  • Manfred hopes to convince the “vast, vast majority” of players to play, but won’t force those who want to sit out
  • Manfred agrees with those who have suggested baseball has played a role in the country’s healing from trauma
  • MLB contracts with a lab in Utah that normally does its minor league drug testing. It has been converted to do COVID-19 testing for MLB
  • Players will be tested multiple times per week. In addition to testing, players would also have their temperatures checked and symptoms logged. Tests have a 24-hour turnaround time. Those who show symptoms will be tested immediately
  • If a player tests positive, he will be taken to a quarantine facility for 14 days. There will be contract tracing. The player would be eligible to return once he tests negative twice in a 24-hour period of time
  • There are “contingency plans” if there are problems “in a particular market” where a team could play its home games somewhere else
  • Manfred said that if there is no season, the owners’ aggregate losses could approach $4 billion

The whole clip:

Obviously, Cooper and Gupta couldn’t have gone over every detail with Manfred in their limited interview time, but it’s a start at least. The interview didn’t include details about what would happen to the league, for instance, if a player tested positive. Would that player’s entire team have to stop playing and go into quarantine? What about their recent opponents and the umpires that were working recent games, and all of the auxiliary personnel they may have come into contact with? Would the league go on pause? Or would they go on as if everything were normal with just the player heading into quarantine? What extra precautions are being taken for players who may be more susceptible to the virus, or who may have family members who are more susceptible? Presumably, those answers and more can be found in MLB’s 80-page protocol. We’ll have to see what the MLBPA thinks.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.