MLB players and coaches are rightly concerned about the lack of social distancing in long rain delays

Even after the first COVID-19 outbreak that threatened the 2020 MLB season, MLB still has some health and safety issues to work out. Thursday, with rain delaying the Yankees and postponing the Reds-Cubs game, the issue of how long teams should wait in confined indoor spaces became front and center. 

After his game was rained out on Thursday, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo pointed a finger at MLB. 

“Player safety? @MLB, Let’s sit around for 8-plus hours inside the clubhouse. I am sure I can find that somewhere in the 113-page player safety protocol,” Rizzo tweeted. 

The Yankees had to sit through a one-hour and 34-minute rain delay during their 8-6 win over the Orioles Thursday night. A week before, the opening night of the season, the Yankees had an over two-hour rain delay. 

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said they tried to follow protocols and make sure they kept a proper distance from each other. 

“I trust that everyone’s very mindful of that. I also understand that it’s a close game in that situation and we’re only through five innings,” Boone said of the decision to make the teams wait. “And if you genuinely felt like there was going to be a window of an opportunity to play, I certainly understand that. 

“Obviously, it’s not ideal in these situations. But, you know, ultimately, that’s not our call,” Boone said. “So it’s our job to as best we can stay ready… When and where they tell us, that’s our focus.”

There is reason for concern about rain delays. Marlins manager Don Mattingly complained about a lack of space to social distance during rain delays in Atlanta. Five days later, the Marlins have 17 players and two staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their season has been “paused” for a week. 

“We had all these guys and nowhere to go,” Mattingly told reporters in a Zoom interview following an exhibition game in Atlanta. “Then we’ve got a zillion guys in the dugout — so there’s no way we’re social distancing.”

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