The league sent a memo to teams Wednesday outlining changes to its 2020 operations manual after outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals led to 21 postponements in the first two weeks of a shortened 60-game season and more than 30 positive cases.
“We recognize that these changes place additional burdens and restrictions on players and staff,’’ the memo, obtained by USA Today Sports, read. “But if we desire to play, they are necessary to limit infections and, if someone does test positive, to keep the virus from spreading. The behavior of every covered individual affects the players and staff on his or her team, and on other clubs as well.”
The safety protocols are not suggestions and league officials are making that clear by threatening possible suspension for offenders.
“Any covered individuals — whether players or club staff — who are found to have repeatedly or flagrantly violated the protocols, including refusing to wear a face covering when required and reminded to do so,’’ the memo reads, “risks being prohibited from further participation in the 2020 season and postseason (in the case of players, subject to the just cause provisions in the Basic Agreement). The Commissioner’s Office will send written warnings prior to any such action being taken.’’
MLB explained that many of the changes came after evaluating results of its investigation into the Marlins outbreak.
The league also said it is working with the union to review contact tracing protocols, specifically the requirements for identified close contacts. Close contacts do not currently include passing interactions or physical contact unlikely to pass secretions, such as elbow bumps