PHILADELPHIA — The coronavirus outbreak among the Miami Marlins had a domino effect throughout Major League Baseball, with MLB postponing the New York Yankees‘ Wednesday home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The cancellation of Miami’s schedule through Sunday gave the Yankees a chance to vote on whether to resume their season with games in Baltimore, and the team unanimously elected to do so. The Orioles had an opening in their schedule because they were supposed to host the Marlins in a two-game series starting Wednesday.
“Coming into it, we understood that there was going to be positive tests and there could be a team that had multiple positive tests, a significant amount like the Marlins, so I think everyone understood that this was a possibility. And the biggest thing is for us to continue,” team union representative Zack Britton said Tuesday on a videoconference call from the team hotel in Philadelphia before boarding the bus to Baltimore.
“We had a discussion, first off, about what was happening here,” he added. “We were given some options on what we could possibly do. Guys felt like, obviously, we want to play. Our team has done a pretty good job, I think, overall, following the protocols, and our medical staff has done a great job of sanitizing the visiting clubhouse. And we felt like we didn’t want to take three to four days off if there’s an opportunity for us to go to Baltimore and play.”
Publicly, the Yankees have been steadfast in expressing their belief that the 113-page 2020 operations manual and the protocols that have been put in place are enough to keep them safe and on the field.
“I definitely feel great about our group. I’m sure there’s other teams that are able to handle different things, but one of the conversations we had going into this is that we always try to be prepared for adversity. We know adversity is coming our way,” manager Aaron Boone said. “And 2020 is unlike anything we’ve all experienced. We know going into this we’re going to have to prepare for some uncomfortable situations, some difficult times, some difficult days, from a baseball standpoint, from a virus standpoint, from travels, from inconveniences, and I do feel like we are uniquely equipped to handle that.”
General manager Brian Cashman, who spoke on the phone with Britton, said the entire team had a unified message, similar to the players’ refrain during the at times bitter return-to-play negotiations: “Tell us where, and we’ll be there.”
“We’re in a world where no one has dealt with anything like this before, so I think we all need to be pliable and be able to pivot and at least be open to adjust, and I’m really proud of our organization thus far,” Cashman said. “When I get on the phone with our manager and ask, 45 minutes before our bus is due to depart for New York, ‘What do you think if we instead pivoted and went to Baltimore so we could play some games down there?’ Everybody seems to be all-in.”
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who recorded a 4-1 win on Opening Day after pitching five innings in a rain-abbreviated game, was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Phillies but will now be the starter for the first game at Camden Yards. J.A. Happ will pitch in Game 2 against the O’s.
Boone did not announce a starter for the Yankees’ rescheduled home opener against the Red Sox on Friday but did reveal that Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery will start two of the three games of the series.
The third-year manager was also asked about Dave Martinez’s comments, in which the Nationals’ manager got emotional while saying that he is “scared” for himself and his players after the news that 14 Marlins players and staff tested positive for COVID-19, and said he does not share the sentiment. Martinez had a health scare last year because of heart issues.
“I certainly get that Dave went through a lot from a health standpoint a year ago and obviously having the Juan Soto situation come up on Opening Day [when Soto tested positive for COVID-19],” Boone said. “I understand that a lot of people are going to feel a lot of different ways about this, and it hits home with people in different ways, and I certainly respect that, but I have not shared those same feelings as of yet.”
Boone, like his players, is focused on playing games and winning as many of them as possible, even under the present circumstances.
“Anytime I hear about these [positives], your heart goes out to whoever is infected. First and foremost, there’s the possibility that somebody becomes very sick. So first and foremost, you hope people remain mostly asymptomatic, which we’ve seen a lot of,” he said. “And then you hope that guys are able to turn it around and get back on the field because it is such a short season, and by and large, guys want to go out and perform and have a season. … As of right now, we get to continue our season, and we’re excited about that opportunity.”