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Marlins’ outbreak could lead to call-up for Jazz

The Miami Marlins, which plays out of one of the most infected states in America as it relates to COVID-19, had a dilemma over the weekend that may result in a Bahamian being called up to the majors earlier than anticipated.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) professional club experienced a significant coronavirus outbreak in which as least 13 members of their travelling party tested positive, a number of which are players. As a result, their opening home series against the Baltimore Orioles has been postponed, and front office personnel is left scrambling for answers in the wake of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the Philadelphia Phillies, who just came out of a weekend set with the Marlins, were also affected. Their home game against the New York Yankees on Monday was postponed and all members of their travelling party underwent COVID-19 tests on Monday.

According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, this was one of the reasons why the 60-man player pool for each team was created. Bahamian shortstop Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm is a member of that player pool, and it’s likely that he could be called up as a replacement during this time.

When contacted yesterday, Chisholm refused comment, choosing to remain silent and let the chips fall where they may.

The Marlins were left stranded in Philadelphia on Sunday, and the Yankees would have utilized the same clubhouse the Marlins were in on Monday had their game not been postponed. According to reports, a total of nine Marlins players on the 30-man roster tested positive along with two taxi squad players, who are available to immediately replace an injured or infected player, and two staff members.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are still in Philadelphia, awaiting the results of the Phillies tests and pending the decision on the status of their scheduled game this evening.

Should the Marlins’ season continue, they will rely heavily on reinforcements from their training camp in Jupiter, Florida. In other words, Chisholm and others could play a major part in the resumption of their season.

If Chisholm is called up, he would be the seventh Bahamian to be summoned for duty in the majors, following in the footsteps of the late great Andre Rodgers, who was the pacesetter with the New York Giants, now San Francisco Giants in 1957, Anthony “Tony” Curry with the Phillies in 1960, two-time World Series Champion Ed Armbrister with the Cincinnati Reds in 1973, Wenty Ford with the Atlanta Braves in 1973, Wilfred “Sudgy” Culmer with the Cleveland Indians in 1983, and finally Antoan Richardson with the Atlanta Braves in 2011.

With no minor leagues this season, teams were allowed to establish 60-man player pools of which Chisholm was a part for the Marlins. The only other Bahamian to make his team’s 60-man player pool was Lucius Fox, a shortstop in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price, who was one of about a dozen players to opt out of the season this year, hinted on Twitter that he now feels justified in his decision not to play.

“Now, we REALLY get to see if MLB is going to put players’ health first. Remember when Manfred said players’ health was PARAMOUNT?! Part of the reason I’m at home right now is because players’ health wasn’t being put first. I can see that hasn’t changed,” he said on Twitter.

Marlins’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Derek Jeter, who was set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year before the coronavirus became widespread, released a statement saying the health of players and staff of his organization remains their primary focus. The former Yankees’ captain is optimistic that the season will continue.

“Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation,” he said on Monday.

At this time, it’s still uncertain if Marlins’ players were the source of the outbreak, but prior to their weekend series with the Phillies, they came off a two-game summer camp set with the Atlanta Braves which reportedly had two players showing symptoms of COVID-19.

For the Marlins, pitcher Jose Urena was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday, and catcher Jorge Alfaro went on the injured list Friday. No reasons were given.

Team manager Don Mattingly, another Yankees legend, said players are undoubtedly concerned.

“They want how they’re feeling about the situation to be heard. I think it’s fair. We’re talking about health,” he said.

This latest setback, which was quite realistic at the onset of the commencement of the 60-game season affects not just the Marlins, and potentially the Phillies as well, but all of Major League Baseball. The already abbreviated season could certainly be in jeopardy, particularly if more outbreaks occur, and depending on the number of players and staff members of teams exposed.

The “bubble” option has surfaced before, with specific mention to compacting all of the games into three parks, but it never materialized and a decision was reached to have the teams play out of their own home parks.

It remains to be seen how Major League Baseball will handle this latest dilemma.

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