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Despite several teams being hit by coronavirus outbreaks, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is certain that the league will make it through its shortened 60 game season even if all the teams don't participate.
Concern over this season started to heighten when it was revealed that at least 18 Miami Marlin players had tested positive for COVID-19. This forced Miami to postpone games and other teams started to take precautionary measures. Yet during Sunday's interview with the Associated Press, Manfred explains that the MLB knows how COVID-19 was introduced to the Miami clubhouse and that the protocol that the league has created will keep teams safe in the future.
"I think that if everybody does what they are supposed to do, we can continue to play, have a credible season and get through the postseason," Manfred said.
Manfred went on to say that there was a "constructive conversation" with union head Tony Clark on Friday. He now expects players and teams to put more emphasis on following the regulations put in place by the MLB and the MLBPA.
"It is what the public health experts have been saying from the beginning about this, that there is no one big magic fix," Manfred explained. "The protocols are a series of little things that people need to do. We've had some problems. In order to be better, it's another series of little things. I think it's peer pressure. I think it's players taking personal responsibility. I think it's the union helping us like Tony Clark helped us yesterday. And I think it's us managing more aggressively."
Despite admitting to a "series" of adjustments throughout the season, Manfred doesn't think that there will be any more issues.
"I don't think it's realistic to think that we're not going to have any more positive tests," he continued. "We're going to be fluid. We think it's manageable."
This comes after a host of coronavirus-related incidents have plagued the MLB. Along with the Marlins clubhouse infection, three St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for COVID-19 with one additional player producing an inconclusive test. Multiple players have opted out of the season including Brewers All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain and Miami second baseman Isan Díaz. Also, Boston's Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the entire season due to heart inflammation caused by COVID-19.
Due to the fear of exposing players to more unnecessary risks, the MLB has shortened its season from 162 games to just 60 games. Still, coronavirus has already forced 19 postponements in just 11 days. Manfred is aware of this and knows that there's a chance not all of the teams will play the whole season. But, that won't stop the MLB from attempting to crown a champion.
"This is kind of a day-to-day thing right now. You've just got to get up in the morning and figure out a way to keep going through another day to stay safe for people," Manfred said. "We've got to be flexible on that. Look, this is one of the reasons that we revisited the issue off the expanded playoffs. If it turns out that some guys play 60, some guys play 58, they have this new thing called winning percentage. We can sort that out."