MLB test sweep brings some success, but optics is an issue

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

MLB and the players union released statistics on Friday saying six of 10,548 samples were new positives in the week ending Thursday, a rate of 0.05%. In addition to five players, a staff member tested positive.

That’s good news for a sport that is trying to start its shortened 60-game schedule next week. But players and coaches are also aware that the optics of the relative success of baseball testing, especially in hardest hit states like Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida, might not be ideal considering the demand for testing sometimes It has been greater than the offer for the average person.

“If they have considered that the players being tested are necessary to provide jobs, opportunities, entertainment, television, everything that is happening, if they think that it is really valuable, then they have weighed, it is important that we do this test often to let the season pass, “said Marlins pitcher Adam Conley. “But it saddens me if someone wants or needs to be tested and does not have the means to do it. It’s heartbreaking. “

MLB is trying to ensure that its nearly 10,000 weekly tests do not deplete public resources by using private facilities. The avalanche of tests has allowed the sport to keep abreast of possible outbreaks.

On Friday, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco and free agent outfielder Yaisel Puig tested positive for COVID-19, while New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu and Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman returned to the field after fooling around with the virus.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, principal investigator for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it was possible that baseball’s rigorous testing could create resource conflicts in regions with poor testing, but he also believes that the MLB investment It could spur much-needed innovation and boost test production.

“The solution here is to really make sure we expand the evidence,” Adalja told The Associated Press. “And maybe because MLB will put resources into trying to buy all of these tests, that could be a way to expand capacity. I don’t know if that’s going to 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. “

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

All 30 baseball teams plan to play in their local markets, which means there will be much more travel for everyone involved. The teams have spent the past few weeks in one location, but will soon begin traveling for exhibition games.

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

“This first trip to Los Angeles will be new for everyone,” said Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley. “From check-ins to hotels and the way we travel, eat and prepare. So I think the first two days of the trip will be a great orientation of what the season will be like and how we are going to handle not going out to eat, not going to the mall, not going out to restaurants after the games. “


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

The 28-year-old Polanco is a key part of the Pirates lineup, especially after they traded Starling Mars to the Diamondbacks during the offseason. He battled injuries last season and hit .242 in 42 games.

Puig recently came close to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves that depended on him passing a physical exam. The 29-year-old man released a statement on social media on Friday saying he had the virus.

Puig said he is asymptomatic and feels “absolutely fine.”

He hit a combined .267 batting average with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019.

Royals prospects Nick Dini and Daniel Tillo 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 wasting time due to COVID-19.

LeMahieu, 32, signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season and hit .327. He set career highs with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs, while dividing time between the first, second, and third. Manager Aaron Boone wants LeMahieu to develop his legs and said it is unclear if he will be ready for Thursday night’s first game in Washington.

Freeman and pitcher Touki Toussaint, who also previously tested positive for the virus, trained at Truist Park on Friday. Freeman appeared to be in shape in a video posted on the Braves’ Twitter account. He punched in the cage and worked on the field and was able to have time to prepare for the team’s opening game at the Mets on Friday.

Royals pitcher Brad Keller also returned after a couple of negative tests. He immediately went out on the field for a 30-pitch bullpen session and had no problems. Athletics received good news when 22-year-old pitcher Jesús Luzardo returned to camp. The season is expected to start outside the bullpen.


New Yankees ace Gerrit Cole gave consecutive home runs to Mike Ford and Miguel Andújar in an intra-squad game that served as the final set-up for their New York debut.

The two runs in the fourth inning were the only ones that allowed more than 5 2/3 innings on Friday. He struck out seven, walked none and hit a batter, throwing 87 pitches.

Next up: a pandemic-delayed MLB season opener of the season in World Series champion Washington Nationals on Thursday night in a showdown against Max Scherzer

“God, it’s going to be fun,” said Cole. “It is going to have a false noise from the crowd, and it will be baseball coronavirus 2020.”

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

Germán put on the Yankees uniform exclaiming in what appears to be a photo of him pitching in a game. The post included words in Spanish that translated to: “Everyone makes history on both sides, I think I made mine at Yankee Stadium, if I decide not to return, I will be proud of my effort during an 11-year career. God bless all those who have supported me “

A right-hander who turns 28 on August 4, Germán – 18-4 last season – has 63 games left on 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 has made the Colorado Rockies list after not pitching in the big leagues since 2013.

The 34-year-old has gone through a half-dozen return attempts since his last appearance with the Boston Red Sox seven years ago, but was unable to rediscover his control and eventually became a player mentor and mental skills coach for the Diamondbacks. from Arizona.

His role with the D-backs included offering advice, but he also shook flying balls and played catch during warm-ups. Soon, the players began to tell him that his pitches were pretty nasty and wondered why he himself wasn’t on a major league mound.

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

“It will be a great story when I come back and pitch well,” Black said. “We are optimistic about it.”


The Rockies rocked their bullpen on Friday, releasing veterans Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw.

Left-hander McGee had a 4.35 ERA in 45 appearances for the Rockies last season. The 33-year-old is owed $ 5,518,519, including $ 3,518,519 of this year’s prorated salary and a purchase of $ 2 million by 2021.

The right-handed Shaw had a 5.38 ERA in 70 appearances in 2019. The 32-year-old is owed $ 5,333,333, including $ 3,333,333 of this year’s prorated salary and a purchase of $ 2 million by 2021.

The Chicago Cubs added veteran infielder Jason Kipnis to their 40-player roster. You will earn a prorated salary of $ 370,370 from your original $ 1 million contract.


Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez is making progress to train with the team according to manager Ron Roenicke.

Rodríguez was expected to be the opener on the team’s opening day before testing positive for COVID-19. The Red Sox are slated 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 because he needs Tommy John surgery.

Anderson was 3-0 with a 5.55 ERA in 54 appearances last season for the Angels, who selected him in the 14th round in 2014. He has five saves in his two major league seasons.


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

The Pirates said Joe Musgrove will start his 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.


More AP MLB: and