PHILADELPHIA -- So far, the COVID-19 outbreak inside the Marlins’ clubhouse has not resulted in a positive test inside the Phillies’ clubhouse, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Wednesday afternoon.
But the Phillies will not resume play until Saturday, when they play a doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park. The Marlins’ outbreak led Major League Baseball to postpone four Phillies games against the Yankees this week in a home-and-home series in Philadelphia and New York, plus Friday night’s series opener against the Blue Jays, “out of an abundance of caution.” The league said there may be further alterations to next week’s schedule.
The Phillies are scheduled to play the Marlins next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, but Klentak said “it is very possible that we will have a different opponent next week.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters that he is under the impression his club will play the Phillies next week.
Everything is fluid.
“We all recognized that this season was going to present a lot of challenges for all parties involved. Players, teams -- everybody was going to need to be flexible,” Klentak said. “Now, it’s one thing to say that, but you don’t know how that is going to manifest itself. It’s another thing to contend with it as it is happening in real time, which is what the Phillies and the league are facing this week.”
Phillies players, coaches and other personnel have been tested daily since they learned of the Marlins’ outbreak shortly before Sunday’s game. Klentak said “there may not be an end date” to daily testing.
“We’ll do that until someone tells us we don’t have to,” Klentak said. “We assume we’ll be taking them for a while.”
Phillies players and coaches were not allowed inside the ballpark on Monday and Tuesday. They returned for staggered workouts Wednesday. Pitchers need to throw off a mound. Hitters need to hit.
It puts the Phillies in a difficult position as they resume play Saturday, when they are scheduled to play a doubleheader with the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park starting at 3:07 p.m. ET.
“I don't dispute that this layoff this week has created a lot of challenges for us,” Klentak said. “The players aren't playing baseball right now and they are used to playing almost daily. Now we're going to have five days off and we're going to ramp it up with two games on Saturday. That presents its own health risks -- maybe not COVID-related, but orthopedic. We've had two starters [Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin] that haven't even been able to take their first turn through the rotation yet.”
Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price should be back Saturday. He missed last Saturday’s and Sunday’s games because he did not feel well. Klentak said he tested negative for COVID-19.
Klentak said that players have had their say. He said he has spoken frequently to first baseman and union rep Rhys Hoskins. The entire team had a Zoom call on Tuesday to discuss matters, too.
“They’re the people who are taking the field and we want to do everything we can to keep them healthy and safe,” Klentak said. “There is no right or wrong way to view the world here. That’s just reality. It’s not limited to baseball. That extends to all walks of life right now. There’s a lot of people that feel very differently about a variety of issues right now.
“As far as what could have been prevented or contained on the other side, I don’t know the answer to that. I do have confidence right now that MLB, they are adjusting as they go through and so are the teams. Nobody has ever gone through this before, so we have to be open to learning as we go and amending protocol as we go so we get it right in the future.”