Drayer: Mariners ‘well aware’ of MLB COVID news, vow to ‘do a better job’
The news Monday morning for the Mariners and the rest of baseball was not good with seven players and two coaches from the Miami Marlins testing positive for the coronavirus overnight while on the road in Philadelphia. As a result, the Marlins home opener against the Orioles has been postponed, as has the game between the Phillies and Yankees that was to take place in Citizens Bank Park Monday night.
After perhaps the relief of getting the baseball season started a stark reminder that the danger of COVID-19 lurks around every corner right now and that what MLB is trying to pull off in terms of a 60-game season remains very, very complicated. For the Mariners in Houston, the news was eye opening.
“We are all aware,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais from Minute Maid Park where the team is to finish their four game series against the Astros later tonight. “Quite frankly we have to do a better job here too. Yesterday’s game was really exciting. Guys were getting big hits, big strikeouts. You just forget. And I am as guilty as anybody.”
According to Servais, the team has been very good about following health and safety protocols before games while in the clubhouse and during pre-game work on the field and in the batting cages.
For three weeks during Summer Camp, we witnessed the Mariners on the field for the most part keeping their distance and wearing masks when not participating in more strenuous activities. As camp came to a close, however, you did see some players a little closer and and a few less wearing masks in the dugout. Perhaps a bit of a false sense of security after three weeks with few positive tests. Monday morning should be a wake up call.
“We have to do a better job,” said Servais who scheduled an outdoor team meeting Monday afternoon to reinforce safe practices. “I think we are saying all the right stuff but when you watch the game you have to do the right thing.”
And therein lies the current challenge.
“Sometimes you let your emotions get in the way, you just react,” Servais acknowledged. “We weren’t clearly thinking, slowing it down enough in those spots. We will discuss that as a team today as I am sure may teams around the league will. We have to be real real careful to follow protocol.”
If you have been watching baseball the past five days, you know the Mariners aren’t the only team in this situation. You see the high fives, you’ve probably seen some hugs. You may have seen spitting. In the heat of the game we have seen some protocols set out by baseball in a 113-page health and safety manual fall by the wayside. This is just one of the dangers. A bigger danger is what happens when ballplayers leave the stadium?
On a more positive note, Servais said that to his knowledge that other than going to the ballpark, the Mariners have not left the team hotel in Houston.
“We talked to the players twice before leaving. You’ve got to lock down, you have got to stay in the hotel,” he said.
As of noon Monday, no Mariners player had expressed concern to Servais about what has happened with the Marlins outbreak. They will have the opportunity to do so when the team meets before batting practice to reinforce protocols, come up with a safer way to celebrate during and after games and most of all, give the reminder that the situation with the coronavirus remains the same, in and out of game.
“When the game starts the competitive nature takes over, emotions are running high. We have to control that a little bit,” said Servais.” “We don’t want to curb the enthusiasm of young players, that’s the beauty of the game and what we are going through and the chance to experience with that with our whole team but we do have to be smart.”