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Yanks farmhand diagnosed with case of coronavirus

The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — A minor leaguer for the New York Yankees tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, becoming the first known player affiliated with Major League Baseball to contract COVID-19.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Sunday that a “younger player” was affected, without identifying him. Cashman said the player “feels much better” and his symptoms had subsided, but he was still isolated.

“He did not have any interactions with our major league players,” Cashman said on a conference call.

The Miami Marlins, meanwhile, became the first organization to completely close their complex. Big leaguers were told to take a break and avoid group activities.

The Marlins’ move was a team decision, rather than something mandated by Major League Baseball. MLB was expected to update clubs on its health policy Monday.

Some of Miami’s players have homes near the spring training complex in Jupiter and plan to stay there. Others will go home.

In the wake of the virus outbreak, MLB and the union recently had given players the option to stay at the site of their spring camp, return to their offseason homes or go to the club’s home city.

Yankees player representative Zack Britton said Friday the team had voted to remain together in Tampa and continue voluntary workouts.

“I’m sure the numbers are going to change,” Cashman said.

Cashman said he met with the major leaguers Sunday in light of the positive virus case at the minor league complex across the street from George M. Steinbrenner Field and the “players didn’t voice anything” as to their immediate plans. But he said as the players process the information, “I just suspect things are going to change.”

Cashman said the minor league complex has been shut through March 25 and some minor league players and personnel had been quarantined. He said both the major league and minor league complexes were undergoing thorough cleanings.

MLB called off the rest of the spring training schedule last Thursday and said opening day, which had been scheduled for March 26, was postponed for at least two weeks.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus within a few weeks.

Cashman said no one else in the Yankees organization other than the affected minor leaguer had been tested for the virus.

The team said the unidentified player had spent his entire time at the minor league complex and hadn’t been over at the main stadium and facilities used by the major leaguers. Cashman said it was not known how or where the player contracted the virus.

Cashman said the player was tested on Friday morning and the minor league complex was closed. He said the positive result was confirmed late Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

The Yankees were on the east coast of Florida for an exhibition when MLB suspended the spring training schedule. Each day has seemingly brought new developments across the baseball landscape.

“Sunday is radically different than where we were Thursday,” he said.

Washington Nationals

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals released relief pitcher Hunter Strickland over the weekend.

Unconditionally releasing Strickland and David Hernandez were among a handful of moves made by the Nationals. They also optioned Jake Noll, Ben Braymer, Aaron Barrett and Kyle McGowin to Triple A and assigned Jacob Wilson, Brandon Snyder, Taylor Gushue, JB Shuck, Dakota Bacus, Bryan Bonnell and Wil Crowe to minor league camp.

Strickland was a trade-deadline pickup for Washington last season. The 31-year-old appeared in 24 regular-season games but none in the playoffs as the Nationals won the World Series.

Strickland before that was most known around Washington for plunking and brawling with ex-Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in 2018. Strickland spent his first five major league seasons with San Francisco. He was with Seattle before the trade to Washington.

In 281 career games with the Giants, Mariners and Nationals, Strickland is 16-15 with a 3.16 ERA, 229 strikeouts, 87 walks and 21 saves.

MLB announced Thursday the season will be delayed at least two weeks from its scheduled start on March 26 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Teams speculated the season might not start until sometime in May, necessitating a reduced schedule.

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