Manfred warns MLB season in jeopardy

CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told players association director Tony Clark Friday that the season could be shut down if the sport doesn't do a better job managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

That is according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Manfred has the power to shut down the season, and according to Passan, he may do so if the number of positive tests continues to spike. Some players fear such a decision could come as soon as Monday.

This news comes after the Cardinals confirmed Friday that two players have tested positive for the virus. The club did not share those players' identities.

The tests were taken before their game Thursday against the Twins, meaning there is a risk of it not only spreading within the Cardinals' clubhouse, but the Twins' as well.

The more pressing case is with the Marlins, though, who have now had 21 individuals test positive for the virus. The club has not played since July 26 and will not be eligible to return until Aug. 3 at the soonest.

The Phillies, who have been unable to play since facing the Marlins last weekend, have also had two people test positive.

On Friday, MLB and the MLBPA jointly announced the results of the past week's testing. Of the 11,895 samples taken, there were 29 positive tests -- 20 by players and nine by staff members.

Derek Shelton confirmed Friday that no Pirates have discussed opting out of the season.

The club is also taking more precautions, like having players wear N95 masks on the bus to games now, which started this road trip.

While the Pirates have done a good job combating the virus, being the first to deep clean their facilities during spring training and praising Gregory Polanco for following protocols when he first experienced symptoms of the virus, there is only so much they can do. It can still greatly impact the season, even if they are not at fault, like what happened to the Phillies or other teams who have had games cancelled because they were scheduled to play the Marlins, Cardinals or Phillies. That second group includes teams like the Orioles, Nationals, Yankees and Blue Jays.

“You could do everything right and still get it," Shelton said during a pregame Zoom call. "That’s why, as a country or as the world, we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on and have to deal with it. That’s why we always have to adapt and adjust, and that’s what we’re doing. Honestly, the thing that sucks the most is we spend more time talking about this than we do about baseball... We’re continuing to talk to our guys every day about the protocols and abiding by it, because it is at the forefront of what we’re doing.”

The Pirates are set to play the Twins after their weekend series with the Cubs, first in Minnesota on Monday and Tuesday and then Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday.

"It’s an eye-opening experience for all of us that it can happen to any team at any time, really," Mitch Keller said during a pregame Zoom call. "Knowing that it’s out there and knowing that we’re at-risk too. All the guys know we’ve been informed on how to prepare ourselves and to keep ourselves as safe as possible."

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