MIAMI — With 19 Miami Marlins – including 17 players – having tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, Major League Baseball has launched an investigation into the team’s on-field and off-field behavior in an attempt to determine how the Marlins’ outbreak happened and try to limit the likelihood of a similar outbreak in the future.

MLB also has updated its COVID-19 safety measures in the wake of the Marlins’ issues.

Among the updates to the protocol, as first reported Wednesday night by ESPN: requiring the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks while traveling, having teams travel with a compliance officer who ensures team members follow the league’s protocol and encouraging players not to leave hotels in road cities except for games.

Another Marlins player returned a positive COVID-19 test result, a source confirmed Thursday. That brings the total to 19 members of the team’s nearly 60-person traveling party who have tested positive since Friday. One of the two coaches who has tested positive, however, has since received a negative test result.

Meanwhile, a Philadelphia Phillies coach and home clubhouse staffer tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Thursday. The Phillies’ coach marks MLB’s first known positive test among on-field personnel (coaches and players) outside the Marlins’ organization since Friday. The Phillies canceled workouts at Citizens Bank Park scheduled for Thursday in light of the new positive tests and said in a release the ballpark is closed until further notice. The Phillies’ series against the Toronto Blue Jays in Philadelphia scheduled for this weekend has also been postponed, Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters Thursday.

ESPN also reported that MLB’s investigation into the outbreak includes exploring speculation by a USA Today writer that Marlins players might have left the team hotel at night while in Atlanta for a pair of exhibition games before arriving in Philadelphia.

When asked about the validity of the report of players leaving the team hotel in Atlanta, a Marlins team spokesperson said MLB and the Marlins are trying to make sure that everyone has as many facts as possible.

The Marlins played the Braves on July 21 and 22 but only stayed one night in Atlanta. The team flew into Atlanta the day of the first exhibition game and flew straight to Philadelphia after their second game ended.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on July 15 issued an executive order limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people and strongly suggested (but not requiring) that those who go out wear facial coverings. Neither the state nor Cobb County, where the Marlins played the Braves, has a curfew in place.

The travel section of MLB’s operations manual for the 2020 season states that members of a team’s travel party “should avoid leaving the Club hotel for non-essential purposes, and should not congregate in public areas of the hotel, for any reason unless approved in advance by appropriate Club personnel.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, in an MLB Network interview Monday, defended the league’s protocols but acknowledged the league has made adjustments “on an ongoing basis.”

“It’s an evolving situation,” Manfred said, “and we continue to reevaluate where we are in the protocols and what we can do to keep the players as safe as possible.”

The team was tested again Thursday morning and would be “hard-pressed” to leave Philadelphia before the weekend, according to a source. Miami’s season has been put on hold until at least Sunday.

The Marlins’ immediate future beyond that also remains in flux as they wait for MLB to provide clarity as to what it would take for the team to be cleared to begin playing again. They are also waiting to see how much next week’s schedule is changed.

The Marlins are scheduled to play Philadelphia at Marlins Park on Tuesday through Thursday, and Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Marlins will be permitted to play at home next week. But there has been discussion about the Marlins possibly remaining on the road next week or possibly playing a different opponent instead. Those conversations are ongoing.

Miami is also still attempting to fortify its roster as it will need to replace more than half of its opening day team when it returns to the field.

The team has already added four veterans in infielder Logan Forsythe and relief pitchers Josh D. Smith, Mike Morin and Justin Shafer. The Marlins are also reportedly signing catcher Wilkin Castillo, who was part of their Triple-A team most of last year, and relief pitcher Pat Venditte, who was with the team in spring training.

RANGERS:  The Texas Rangers will be without closer Jose Leclerc for most of the pandemic-shortened season with a shoulder injury similar to the one that sidelined starter Corey Kluber earlier this week.

Leclerc’s muscle tear in his right shoulder is not as severe as Kluber’s, but he will have the same injection and be out the same four weeks before any plan for throwing is considered, GM Jon Daniels said.

Kluber pitched just one inning in his Texas debut Sunday before reporting tightness in his shoulder and leaving the game. Leclerc stopped warming up for a save situation in a 7-4 win over Arizona on Wednesday because of shoulder tightness.

Neither player is expected to have surgery. Both are on the 45-day injured list.

BRAVES: Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz has cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Braves’ alternate training site.

No team chose to take on the $2.13 million remaining in Foltnewicz’s 2020 contract. He was designated for assignment by the Braves on Tuesday following an alarming drop in velocity in summer camp and in his 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday night.

He now will have a chance to regain his strength and velocity at the Triple-A Gwinnett alternate site. The Braves hope he can turn it around the way he did after he was demoted to Gwinnett last year.

ANGELS: Mike Trout was placed on the paternity list before the Angels’ game against the Seattle Mariners.

The reigning AL Most Valuable Player and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child, which was due Monday. Trout, who turns 29 on Aug. 7, initially expressed reservations about playing the season due to the coronavirus pandemic when players started summer camp workouts but was pleased with how the Angels were trying to keep players healthy.


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