- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Miami Marlins’ season was suspended through at least Sunday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 that has infected more than half of their traveling party.

Washington’s series against Miami, originally scheduled for this weekend in Florida, was postponed. The Nationals will have Friday through Sunday off instead.

As many as 19 people within the Marlins organization, most of them players along with at least two coaches, had tested positive for the coronavirus by Tuesday, reports said.

On Monday night, before Major League Baseball’s decision, Nationals players voted against traveling to Miami, a virus hot spot. Manager Dave Martinez said only one player did not raise his hand to say he was uncomfortable going to Miami.

The vote, which Martinez decided to hold after hearing “rumblings” of concern among some players, illustrated how worried Washington’s clubhouse was about COVID-19. But the final decision was in MLB’s hands, not the team’s.

“First of all, I think MLB did the right thing. It’s all about keeping us safe: myself, the players, our staff, everybody,” Martinez said before Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

This week’s Orioles-Marlins games — two in Miami, two in Baltimore — were postponed, as was the Philadelphia Phillies’ series against the New York Yankees. The Phillies won’t return to action until Friday at the earliest because they hosted the Marlins during the league’s opening weekend.

MLB reworked its schedule to account for both Miami and Philadelphia being off. The Yankees now will go to Baltimore for a two-game set with the Orioles Wednesday and Thursday “in order to create more scheduling flexibility later in the season,” according to a league statement.

Further, the league claimed that none of its other 29 teams had any new COVID-19 cases for on-field personnel through Friday’s testing.

Martinez — who described his level of concern Monday as changing from “about an eight to a 12” — said the team’s vote did not have to do any ill feelings toward the Marlins specifically, but with the region being a hot spot.

“All the decisions made here, basically, we’re really close and we’re very united,” Martinez said. “I heard rumblings from players and like I said, they had some concerns so I wanted to talk about it. We had a vote, and we all decided that it was probably unsafe to go there.”

The manager said he’d been in touch with Marlins manager Don Mattingly and empathized with the situation he is going through. Mattingly allowed his team to go on with Sunday’s game against Philadelphia despite knowledge of four players who had tested positive, before that number ballooned.

“We’re in some tough times,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to play through a pandemic. Everybody knows that. And what happened to the Marlins, I don’t wish that on anybody, but it happened and it’s real.”

Martinez hadn’t yet decided what the team will do with the three suddenly empty dates Friday through Sunday, but said they would “have to come up with some kind of workouts or something” to use the time effectively.

Amid the chaos, the Nationals actually received some good virus-related news: Juan Soto received two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests from the league’s lab. He was not available for Tuesday’s game, however, as he still needed official clearance from both MLB and the District Department of Health.

Soto has yet to play in 2020 after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result the morning of the first game. He was asymptomatic at the time and received additional tests from the Nationals that also came back negative, leading to belief that he had a false positive last week.

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