As one of the teams with a legitimate chance to the win the World Series, the Rays have a vested interest in seeing the truncated 2020 season through to its conclusion. To that end, it hasn’t been a hard sell to convince this group to follow coronavirus protocols set in
As one of the teams with a legitimate chance to the win the World Series, the Rays have a vested interest in seeing the truncated 2020 season through to its conclusion. To that end, it hasn’t been a hard sell to convince this group to follow coronavirus protocols set in place by Major League Baseball.
Reacting to an ESPN report of a possible shutdown, two prominent members of the Rays agreed with the sentiment Commissioner Rob Manfred sent to Players Association executive director Tony Clark, indicating the season could end soon if all parties involved don’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus.
“There's a lot of people that are concerned, scratching their heads, and I think it's fair that the Commissioner comes out and says that you think you're doing a good job? Do a better job,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got to do a better job as a whole, as an industry, if we want to see this thing through, just to make sure that we're all adhering to the protocols that are put in place to keep us safe.”
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the league and players “recognize the coming days are a critical juncture” in the wake of an outbreak among Marlins personnel that has produced 18 positive tests, and two positive tests that emerged from Cardinals testing on Friday.
So far, no Rays have tested positive since the season began. To right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who had a mild case of the virus during Summer Camp, that isn’t by coincidence. As far as he can tell, every person associated with the team is following the protocols to the letter.
“We're honestly on point,” Glasnow said. “The Rays have done an amazing job. Even at times I'll walk through the clubhouse with my mask a little lower, and someone will say something. My initial response is frustration, like, ‘Leave me alone. Come on, I'm doing everything I can.’ But it just shows it's good at the end of the day. Everyone is very hypersensitive and hyper aware of it, which is, I think, a really good job.”
The most challenging part is simply remembering not to do things considered common behavior during a baseball game. Everyday habits such as high-fiving and huddling in the dugout are big no-no’s, and that’s tough, given players and coaches normally do this without thinking much about it.
Cash had to remind himself of the little things several times during the Rays’ finale in Atlanta on Thursday.
“We said yesterday, let's do a better job of limiting contact,” Cash said. “And it's tough. I find when a pitcher comes out of the game, when we score a run … it was odd last night. It was probably the oddest day in a dugout that I've had being in a dugout. To not high-five a guy, and not have a close conversation. We're used to that. No touching is something that we got to do a better job of and we're going to continue to kind of harp on that and ask our players to follow that lead.”
One thing that hasn’t been hard for the Rays to do is stay home, or at the team hotel. Blake Snell said Thursday, “Me being locked in a hotel room, I can find a lot of entertainment out of that, so it doesn't bother me one bit.”
Glasnow believes it’s inexcusable for any team to not be taking the protocols seriously.
“It affects every other person and staff member, and you don't know who those staff members or those players may go back to at home, and who has previous [health] conditions,” Glasnow said. “So to act irresponsibly and go out and do some sort of self-serving act is pretty ridiculous. I hope guys just understand that you kind of have to make sacrifices for 60 days or whatever it is, and there's no excuse to just go out and go to bars right now.”
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.