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MLB postpones Marlins' schedule through Sunday, shifts Yankees to play Orioles instead of Phillies

A view of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

A view of Oriole Park at Camden Yards during an Orioles intrasquad game on July 9 in Baltimore. Credit: Getty Images/Greg Fiume

PHILADELPHIA – The Yankees left Philadelphia with the same 2-1 record they arrived here with on Sunday night. And now they're headed to Baltimore's Camden Yards instead of home at Yankee Stadium.

The outbreak of COVID-19 cases on the Miami Marlins caused both Yankees games against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park — scheduled for Monday and Tuesday night — to be postponed. MLB, citing " an abundance of caution," also postponed the Yankees' scheduled home games with the Phillies on Wednesday and Thursday. The Yankees will now play at Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday, helping to create schedule flexibility later in the 60-game season.

General manager Brian Cashman said his meeting with Zack Britton, the club’s MLBPA player rep, produced a uniform message from players.

“Tell us where and we’ll be there,” Cashman said late Tuesday afternoon.

And so the Yankees, who initially were scheduled to leave Philadelphia at 2 p.m. to head home for a workout at the Stadium, left via bus instead around 5 p.m. for Baltimore and a night workout at Camden Yards.

“We’re in a world where no one has dealt with anything like this before, so I think we all need to be pliable and to be able to pivot and at least be open to adjust,” Cashman said. “I’m really proud of our organization thus far. Everybody seems to be all in.”

Said Britton of the Marlins' outbreak: “I think [going in] everyone understood that this was a possibility.”

On Tuesday afternoon, MLB also announced that the Marlins' schedule has been postponed through Sunday, which included games with Baltimore and Washington.

"Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week," the league said in a news release.

Manager Aaron Boone said Gerrit Cole, originally scheduled to start Tuesday night against the Phillies, will start Wednesday night against the Orioles and likely will be followed by J.A. Happ Thursday. Boone did not give the rotation for the weekend home series vs. the Red Sox but did say he expected Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery to start two of the games.

The news of Tuesday’s postponement was not unexpected.

Not since news broke Monday morning that a total of 13 Marlins, who preceded the Yankees inside the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, had tested positive for COVID-19. That total was reportedly bumped to 17 on Tuesday morning when four additional tests came back positive.

The Yankees spent Monday quarantined in their hotel awaiting word from MLB regarding Tuesday night’s game.

It did not come until Tuesday morning, when news came that the Phillies, all of whom had to be tested again Monday having just spent the weekend potentially exposed to the Marlins, had not yet received all of their results back.

Even if those results all came back negative — and reports by late Tuesday morning said they had — it’s unlikely the Yankees would have been especially enthusiastic about entering the same clubhouse the Marlins just occupied.

Said one Yankees insider Monday night: “I don’t see us being any more comfortable being in that clubhouse [on Tuesday] than we would have been today.”

Boone, however, said late Tuesday afternoon, based on what he heard of the extensive cleaning the visitors' clubhouse had undergone since the Marlins departed, “Had they said go in today I would have felt Ok” about his and his players’ safety.  

Boone and Cashman both, unprompted, praised the players’ response to the last-minute changes and their ability to adjust, on the fly, to the inconveniences of an unprecedented time.

“I do feel like we are uniquely equipped to handle that,” Boone said. “Again, I think it’s one of those things that’s going to be critical if you’re going to have success on the baseball field this year is you’re going to have to be able to deal with the curveballs that can likely come on a daily and weekly basis.”

In Tuesday's announcement, MLB said it has conducted more than 6,400 tests since July 24, and no other teams have had any new positive cases of on-field personnel. Through July 23, 99 of the 32,640 samples — 0.3% — were positive, the league said.

"The difficult circumstances of one club reinforce the vital need to be diligent with the protocols in all ways, both on and off the field," MLB said. "We will continue to bolster our protocols and make any necessary adjustments.  The realities of the virus still loom large, and we must operate with that in mind every day. We are confident that clubs and players will act appropriately, for themselves and for others, and the data provides reason to believe that the protocols can work effectively."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred did not address Monday’s events, to the frustration of more than a few in the sport, until that night on the league-owned MLB Network.

“I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” Manfred told the network. “Obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing. But I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players.”

There were plenty in the league, though, who viewed the Marlins'situation as closer to a nightmare, with Nationals manager Dave Martinez’s comments among the most powerful.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I’m scared, I really am,” said Martinez, who in addition to worrying about his players has a heart condition of his own. “I go from here, home, back here every day, that’s all I do. I wash my hands. I went from 47 times a day to probably 99 times a day. Wear my mask everywhere I go. But there’s always that concern, you know . . . you don’t know, because of my heart condition, what happens to me if I do get it. I have to be extra careful. With that said, sometimes I tend to put myself aside and worry about other people more than me. I think that’s why I’m here, because I worry about those guys before I put myself first.”

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