Notebook: COVID-19 testing hits a snag for some in MLB, but not Mariners

Jul 6, 2020, 12:30 PM
Mariners T-Mobile Park...
The Mariners have been holding Summer Camp at their home field, T-Mobile Park. (Getty)

On Monday we awoke to the news that a number of MLB teams have experienced delays in getting their initial COVID-19 test results back from the lab in Utah. That forced the Nationals and Astros to cancel their workouts for the day, while the A’s, who had to cancel a position players workout Sunday, pushed their work to later in the day Monday in hopes they would get the test results back beforehand.

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While it has been generally accepted that there would be hiccups early on as new measures and protocol were put into place, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo put out the word in a statement that these things cannot happen going forward if MLB hopes to return:

“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for Covid-19 on Friday, July 3rd. Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled out team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. 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.”

For their part, the Mariners did not experience any significant delays in getting results back from their intake testing. The team scheduled their initial tests July 1 and got their results back in a timely manner. Teams that staggered their testing into later in the week are the ones that had issues. This clearly is not the fault of the teams, all of which had to submit testing plans to the league.

It is of vital importance that this be remedied quickly both for the obvious safety reasons but also because players must have confidence in the system for this to work. While players are in camp now, many wanted to take some time, see how the system worked, see how it felt to play under the health and safety protocols before determining if playing in a pandemic was something they could do. This is a big strike against the plan but one that should be able to be remedied quickly.

In a noon Monday press release, MLB addressed the problem:

“Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend.  The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned.  Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays.  We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence.  We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.

“We appreciate the great cooperation from the players as well as the hard work of the Clubs and many internal and external staff members under these challenging circumstances.  The process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties, which are being addressed with the service providers that are essential to the execution of the protocols.  It is important to be mindful that nearly all of the individuals have been tested as planned.  The health and safety of our players and employees will remain our highest priorities.”

The release stated that 95 percent of intake testing is now complete with the remainder expected to be completed by the end of the day. With intake results now in, analyzed and reported to the clubs, the protocol will proceed with players being tested every two days going forward. The release did note that the lab processing the tests is “operating on a seven-day-a-week schedule” from July 5 through the World Series.

So far the players we have been able to talk to on the Mariners’ virtual interviews have displayed none of the apprehension we have seen from players like Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Sean Doolittle, all of whom have posed very good questions about playing under the current circumstances and have yet to make their final decision on going forward into the season.

“Everyone’s situation is different, they have people at home and are looking at it different,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Saturday. “As this thing moves along you may see more of it but I haven’t had any indication from our guys that could be an issue. Things could change and certainly we have to be adjustable and ready for that to happen but on our end, I haven’t heard any of that.”

What we are seeing from the Mariners are more facial coverings on the field during drills. While most will not wear masks during batting practice, the vast majority of players are now wearing them while stretching, on the bases and in the field, an indication they are getting more comfortable with the face coverings.


• With teams permitted to disclose only injuries caused within the course of play, we do not know which Mariners have tested positive for COVID-19. General manager Jerry Dipoto is expected to give an update on the Mariners’ intake testing Wednesday so at a minimum we should get the exact number of positive results the team has received.

• Marco Gonzales, Nestor Cortes and Taylor Williams threw live batting practice Monday morning with Dee Gordon, Kyle Seager, Kyle Lewis, Jake Fraley, Braden Bishop and Daniel Vogelbach stepping in against them. The highlights? A Kyle Lewis laser off of Cortes that landed in row 3 in right-center and the final pitch to a live batter in Gonzales’ session.

• From the dings and dents department, catcher Tom Murphy fouled a ball off his foot Sunday and will be held back a bit for a day or two.

• The Mariners’ Monday afternoon session will be live streamed on their YouTube and Twitch channels beginning at 3 p.m. That session will include another live batting practice and while we don’t have names of the participants, all of the Mariners young pitching has been part of the afternoon group so there is a decent chance you could see a No. 1 pick from any of the last three years on the mound.

• The team will continue to workout in a.m. and p.m. groups as they move to intrasquad games July 10, with those not scheduled to play getting their work in the morning and the games being played in the afternoon.

• The 2020 schedule will be released on the MLB Network at 3 p.m.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

More on Mariners Summer Camp from Shannon

Day 3: M’s figuring out how to settle into a routine
A few stand out in Day 2 of M’s Summer Camp
Mariners Summer Camp Day 1 notebook
Mariners adapting to ‘new normal’ as practices begin in Seattle
Mariners to have some key coaches work remotely through 2020
How M’s plan to keep their ballpark safe from COVID-19

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Notebook: COVID-19 testing hits a snag for some in MLB, but not Mariners