CEO Derek Jeter blames Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak on players letting ‘their guard down’

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Tuesday night in Baltimore, the Miami Marlins will return to play nine days after a COVID-19 outbreak forced MLB to hit pause on their season. Three Marlins players tested positive last Sunday and, all told, 21 members of their traveling party have since tested positive, including at least 18 players. The outbreak has forced the club to overhaul their roster.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter spoke Monday for the first time since the outbreak. He shot down rumors that the outbreak started when players went out on the town during the team’s summer camp exhibition games in Atlanta, instead saying they “let their guard down” during routine errands, like getting coffee. Here is Jeter’s interview:

“Our guys were not running all around town in Atlanta,” Jeter said. “We did have a couple of individuals leave the hotel. We had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes. A guy left to have dinner at a teammate’s house. There were no other guests on site. There was no salacious activity. There was no hanging out at bars, no clubs, no running around Atlanta.”

MLB‘s protocols do not prohibit players from leaving the team hotel on the road, instead strongly encouraging players not to do so. Since the Marlins outbreak MLB has revised and tightened up their protocols, including requiring each team to travel with a compliance officer who ensures protocols are being followed.

“The entire traveling party got a little too comfortable,” Jeter added. “… Guys were around each other, they got relaxed, and they let their guard down. They were getting together in groups. They weren’t wearing masks as much as they should have. They weren’t social distancing.”

Marlins personnel had to isolate at their hotel in Philadelphia for a few days, with sick individuals later bused back to Miami, where they remain quarantined. Jeter says the majority of their infected players are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. MLB’s protocols requires players to test positive twice at least 24 hours apart, among other things, before they can return.

Miami’s outbreak forced the Phillies, their opponent the first weekend of the season, to shut down and isolate for a week as well. MLB revised the schedule on the fly — the Yankees and Orioles wound up playing each other because their respective series with the Phillies and Marlins were postponed — and the league hopes all games can be made up.

The Marlins are not the only team to experience a COVID-19 outbreak early this season. The Cardinals are currently shut down with 13 positive tests, including seven players, and they will not return to action until Friday at the earliest. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak denied rumors that their outbreak started when a player(s) visited a casino.

Marlins infielder Isan Diaz opted out of the season following the team’s outbreak. Several other players, including Lorenzo Cain and Yoenis Cespedes, have also opted out in recent days citing COVID-19 concerns.



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