Three MLB players positive for COVID-19 in past week

Charles Grantham 10
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NEW YORK — Three players were positive for COVID-19 among 900 intake samples among those arriving at spring training during the second week of workouts.

Major League Baseball said Friday there had been 15 positives overall among 5,236 tests thus far during spring training, a positive rate of 0.3%. Positive tests included 12 players and three staff.

Weekly monitoring testing included five positives among 13,208 tests, a rate of 0.4%. Positives included two players and three staff.

That left figures for monitor testing at five positives among 15,506 tests, a rate of 0.3%, and figures for all testing at 20 positives among 20,742 tests, a rate of 0.1%.

There have been 14 positive tests among players and six staff, covering 14 of the 30 teams.

All players on 40-man rosters and players with minor league contracts invited to big league training camp are screened. Also tested are all other on-field personnel such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers, strength and conditioning staff and physicians.

Team owner, front office management, communications staff, groundskeepers, clubhouse and travel staff and ballpark operations employees who require access to restricted areas also are screened.

All individuals tested were required to maintain a five-day at-home quarantine and undergo screening that included a PCR test, antibody test and contactless temperature check.

Under special rules this year, spring training games through March 13 may be shortened to five innings or seven innings if both teams agree, and spring training games from March 14-30 may be shortened to seven innings. Teams must notify MLB of an agreement on a shortened game by 5 p.m. Eastern time in the previous day. Any spring training game may be allowed to end in a tie after its scheduled length.

In addition, through March the manager of the team playing defense may allow a half inning to end before the third out if a pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches.

Pitchers also may re-enter during spring training games.

Before Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive during the sixth and final game of the World Series last Oct. 27, MLB said four days earlier that players had gone 54 consecutive days without any positive tests.

In the final figures released last year, MLB said it had collected 172,740 samples and that 91 had been positive, or 0.05%. Fifty-seven of 91 positives have been players, and 21 of the 30 teams have had a person covered by the monitoring test positive.

MLB and the players’ association combined to spend about $35 million on COVID-19 testing and rules last year during pre-season training, which started July 1, the delayed and shortened 60-game season, and the expanded 16-team playoffs.

There were 45 regular-season games postponed for COVID-19-related reasons last year but just two were not made up, between St. Louis and Detroit.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.