Testing causing headaches
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Baseball’s two World Series teams canceled workouts Monday because of coronavirus testing delays that one executive worried could endanger the season.
The defending champion Washington Nationals and reigning American League champion Houston Astros each called off training camp practices after not receiving test results from Friday. The cancellations come amid delays around Major League Baseball, with some players opting out, and in the aftermath of Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle criticizing slow test results and a lack of some personal protective equipment.
“Without accurate and timely testing, it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk.”
Astros general manager James Click said the delay in testing results and the contagious nature of the coronavirus led to the decision to cancel a full day of workouts.
“Despite these delays over the holiday weekend, we’re optimistic that the this process will be ironed out and we’ll be back on the field and ready to compete for a championship soon,” Click said.
MLB said in a statement that 95% of its intake testing had been completed and that the Utah laboratory it’s using had reported 98% of results, a majority of those a day after samples were collected. MLB said it addressed delays caused by the holiday weekend, doesn’t expect them to continue and commended teams for canceling workouts.
But frustration is building around the majors over testing delays.
The Los Angeles Angels were forced to collect their own saliva samples Sunday when testers didn’t show up at their camp training complexes in Anaheim or Long Beach. They also delayed their workouts Monday to accommodate the testers, eventually turning their usual morning drills into an optional afternoon session.
Angels manager Joe Maddon believes “this will be a short-lived situation” and pinned the problem on the holiday weekend.
“I want to believe everything will get straightened out relatively soon,” Maddon said. “I think it’s just one of those moments that was hard to foresee coming into it, but I’ve got a lot of confidence that it’s going to be fixed.”
The Oakland Athletics have yet to have a full-squad workout as they await test results, with manager Bob Melvin optimistic it could be soon. The Arizona Diamondbacks pushed back Monday’s workout a few hours, hoping to get additional results from tests that were taken on Friday.
“I think if we really want this to succeed, we’re going to have to figure that out,” said Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who voiced concern that some teammates haven’t been tested in a week. “If you can’t really nail the easy part, which is right now … we’ve got a big hill to climb.”