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Phillies, Blue Jays place players on IL, COVID-19 speculation ensues

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With ‘summer camp’ about to get under way, MLB.com’s transactions log is back up and running. As of this writing, two teams have placed players on the injured list: the Phillies and Blue Jays. For the Phillies, Héctor Neris, Tommy Hunter, Ranger Suárez, and Scott Kingery are on the 10-day IL. The Blue Jays have Brandon Drury, Jonathan Davis, Hector Perez, and Elvis Luciano DL’ed. None of the players have reasons listed for their appearance, so speculation about which players might have the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has ensued.

On Tuesday, I discussed the tricky spot MLB teams are in regarding disclosure of players affected by COVID-19. Due to the Basic Agreement, teams aren’t allowed to disclose their players’ medical issues if they aren’t employment-related (consider a cancer diagnosis versus a torn UCL). The lack of transparency — whether for nefarious reasons or not — for COVID-IL players will simply invite rampant speculation, and that is what we have seen early on. Fans and members of the media alike are wondering which players, if not all of them, are suffering from the virus. Since a player’s placement on the IL typically comes with a reason for said placement, it won’t be difficult to parse which players are there for COVID-19 and which are not.

The most important thing is that players have privacy and control over their medical information. That being said, the highly public and competitive nature of their jobs has resulted in transparency regarding their medical information. One wonders if the headaches caused by the speculation might result in the current policy being amended. Players could have generic reasons listed for their placement, or teams could simply reveal which players have COVID-19. There isn’t an easy fix, but the current system doesn’t appear to be the solution.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”