MLB’s test sweep brings some success, but optics is a problem


PHOENIX (AP) – Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 test sweep appears to have some success even as large swathes of the United States continue to struggle to contain the rapidly spreading virus.

The MLB and the players’ union released statistics on Friday indicating that six of 10,548 samples were positive again in the week ending Thursday, a rate of 0.05%. In addition to five players, one staff member tested positive.

That’s pretty good news for a sport trying to start their shortened 60-game schedule next week. But players and coaches are also aware that the lens of baseball’s relative success in testing – especially in hard-hit states like Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida – might not be ideal, given that the demand for tests has sometimes exceeded the supply for the average person. .

“If they felt that the players being tested are necessary to provide jobs, opportunities, entertainment, television, everything that’s going on – if they think it’s really valuable – then they weighed it is important for us to be tested as often. for the season, “said Marlins pitcher Adam Conley. “But it makes me sad if someone wants or needs to be tested and can’t afford it. It is heartbreaking. ”

MLB tries to make sure its nearly 10,000 weekly tests don’t strain public resources by using private facilities. The avalanche of testing has kept the sport abreast of potential outbreaks.

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco and free agent outfielder Yaisel Puig both tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday while New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu and Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman both returned to the field after running out of time with the virus.

Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it was possible that baseball’s rigorous testing could create conflict over resources in areas running out of testing, but he also believes the MLB investment could stimulate much needed innovation and boost production in testing.

“The solution here is really to make sure that we extend the testing,” Adalja told The Associated Press. “And maybe because the MLB will invest resources to try to buy all of these tests, it could actually be a way to increase capacity.” I don’t know if this will happen or not, but we want to be in a place where testing can be done as quickly and easily as possible for all purposes.

The MLB’s approach to its comeback has been different from that of the NBA and NHL, both of which have opted for a bubble atmosphere in the hub cities. The NBA has 22 teams in Orlando, Florida, while the NHL teams will play in Toronto and Edmonton.

The 30 baseball teams are all planning to play in their home market, which means there will be a lot more travel for everyone involved. The teams have spent the past few weeks at the same location but will soon start traveling for exhibition matches.

The Arizona Diamondbacks leave Sunday for two exhibition games in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

“This first trip to Los Angeles is going to be new for everyone,” said Archie Bradley, closer to the Diamondbacks. “From check-in to hotels to how we travel, eat and prepare. So I think the first couple of days of travel is going to be a really big orientation of what the season is going to be like and how we’re going to deal with not going out to eat, not going to the mall, do not go to a restaurant. after the matches. “


Polanco and Puig were the last two big players to test positive for the virus.

Polanco, 28, is a key part of the Pirates’ roster, especially after trading Starling Marte to the Diamondbacks in the offseason. He battled injuries last season and hit .242 in 42 games.

Puig was recently near a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves who depended on him to pass a physical exam. The 29-year-old posted a statement on social media on Friday saying he had the virus.

Puig said he was asymptomatic and that he felt “absolutely fine”.

He reached a total of .267 with 24 circuits and 84 RBIs for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019.

Royals hopefuls Nick Dini and Daniel Tillo have also tested positive for the virus. They are now quarantined.


Two All-Stars from last season – LeMahieu and Freeman – are among those who returned to the field after running out of time due to COVID-19.

LeMahieu, 32, signed with the Yankees ahead of the 2019 season and reached .327. He established career heights with 26 circuits and 102 RBIs while dividing the time between the first, second and third. Manager Aaron Boone wants LeMahieu to tighten up and says it’s not clear if he’ll be ready for Thursday night’s opener in Washington.

On Friday, Freeman and pitcher Touki Toussaint – who had also previously tested positive for the virus – worked at Truist Park. Freeman looked fit in the video posted to Braves’ Twitter account. He took swings in the cage and worked on the field and may have time to prepare for the team’s opening match at the Mets on Friday.

Royals pitcher Brad Keller also returned after a pair of negative tests. He immediately hit the field for a 30-pitch session and had no problem. Athletics received good news when the 22-year-old pitcher Jesus Luzardo returned to camp. He should start the season outside the bullpen.


New Yankees ace Gerrit Cole conceded back-to-back homeruns for Mike Ford and Miguel Andújar in an intrasquad game that served as the final focus for his New York debut.

The two runs from the fourth inning were the only ones he allowed more than 5 2/3 innings on Friday. He struck out seven, didn’t step on any batter, and hit 87 shots.

Next step: A major league season opening game delayed by a pandemic at the World Series championships in Washington Thursday evening during a match against Max Scherzer,

“Gosh, it’s going to be fun,” said Cole. “There is going to be a false crowd noise, and it will be baseball coronavirus 2020.”

Additionally, Yankees suspended pitcher Domingo Germán questioned his future in baseball with a curious Instagram post on Friday night.

Germán displayed in a Yankees uniform, exclaiming in what appears to be a photo of him pitching in a game. The message included Spanish words which translated as: “Everyone is making history on both sides, I think I made mine at Yankee Stadium, if I decide not to come back I will be proud of my efforts over an 11-year career. God bless all who supported me ”

A right-hander who turns 28 on Aug.4, Germán – 18-4 last season – has 63 games left in his suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. The regular season is limited to 60 games this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Daniel Bard was part of the Colorado Rockies roster after not pitching in the big leagues since 2013.

The 34-year-old has enjoyed half a dozen return attempts since his last appearance with the Boston Red Sox seven years ago, but he couldn’t regain his control and eventually became a player mentor and coach. of mental skills for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

His role with the D-backs was to offer advice, but he also had flying balls and playing ball during warm-ups. Soon players started telling him his throws were pretty nasty and wondered why he wasn’t on a league mound himself.

Black informed Bard on Friday that he had made the list.

“It’s going to be a great story when he comes back and throws well,” said Black. “We are optimistic about this. “


On Friday, the Rockies rocked their enclosure, freeing veterans Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw.

Left-hander McGee had a BPM of 4.35 in 45 appearances for the Rockies last season. The 33-year-old owes $ 5,518,519, including $ 3,518,519 in pro-rated salary this year and a $ 2 million buyout for 2021.

Right-hander Shaw had a BPM of 5.38 in 70 appearances in 2019. The 32-year-old owes $ 5,333,333, including $ 3,333,333 in prorated wages this year and a $ 2 million buyout for 2021.

The Chicago Cubs added veteran indoor field player Jason Kipnis to their 40-player squad. He will receive a pro-rata salary of $ 370,370 from his initial contract of $ 1 million.


Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is making progress in training with the team, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

Rodriguez had to be the starter of the team’s opening day before testing positive for COVID-19. The Red Sox are set to open the season on July 24 against the Baltimore Orioles. If Rodríguez is not available, the first game could go to Nathan Eovaldi.


Los Angeles Angels right-hander Justin Anderson will miss the 2020 season as he needs Tommy John surgery.

Anderson went 3-0 with a 5.55 ERA in 54 appearances last season for the Angels, who drafted him in the 14th round in 2014. He made five saves in his two great seasons of championship.


The Milwaukee Brewers say right-hander Brandon Woodruff will be the team’s opening day starter against the Chicago Cubs next Friday. He was 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 22 starts last season.

The Pirates have announced that Joe Musgrove will start their first game in St. Louis on July 24. The Twins will start the José Berríos All-Star game against the White Sox in Chicago.


AP sports writers Jake Seiner, Steven Wine, Charles Odum, Will Graves, Ron Blum, Dave Skretta, Jimmy Golen, Janie McCauley, Arnie Stapleton and Steve Megargee contributed to this report.


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