SARASOTA, Fla. -- With the coronavirus spreading into the United States, the Rays have begun to take some necessary steps in order to try and prevent the virus from affecting anyone in their Spring Training facility in Port Charlotte, Fla.
The club sent out a memo on Monday, reminding players, coaches and everyone involved with the team to be cautious. The memo encouraged everyone to be more mindful of washing and sanitizing their hands. They’ve also been encouraged to not high-five or shake hands, at least for the moment.
“I think we all have to take the precautionary measurements to do what we can,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We want to do everything we can to prevent anything like that from happening.”
The virus originated from China, but has since spread to South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, the United States and 61 other countries. On Sunday night, there were two reported cases in Florida: one in the Sarasota area, where the Rays played on Monday, and one in Hillsborough County.
Ji-Man Choi, whose mother and brother are living in South Korea, hasn’t been directly impacted by the coronavirus and his family is safe, but he’s keeping a close eye on what’s happening in his country.
“I’m very worried that this infection isn’t slowing down at all,” Choi said, through interpreter Steve Nam. “I am worried with all the Asian countries -- Korea, Japan, China -- so hopefully this all ends soon. That’s what I’m praying for.”
Choi added that he has offered his family a trip to the United States until the situation back home clears up. But because his town hasn’t been impacted, he hasn’t felt the need to try and move his family.
However, in order to remain cautious with the situation, Choi is asking all Korean media to do interviews outside the clubhouse, at least until there’s more information on the virus.
“I just want to be cautious, especially around the players,” Choi said. “I know it’s very important for them to have a great season and I don’t want to be affected by any of that, so I’m just being cautious with the Korean media.”
Yoshi Tsutsugo, who was born in Japan, also said his family is fine, but they remain cautious and vigilant of the news. Tsutsugo said he underwent quick testing for his temperature when he arrived from Japan last month, just to make sure that he didn’t have a fever.
Like Choi, Tsutsugo also expressed concern with the current situation, but also added that his family and friends have not been impacted.
“Of course I’m worried,” Tsutsugo said, through team interpreter Louis Chao. “But so far none of my friends and family have gotten the coronavirus, so that’s a good thing. But still, not just my friends and family, I hope everyone in Japan can get through all of this.”