Major League Baseball appears on course to intensify its protocols following the coronavirus outbreak that struck the Miami Marlins’ roster.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, stricter guidelines could include limiting player movement on the road, the requirement of surgical masks and the use of compliance officials who monitor employees’ adherence to safety protocols for each team.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, whose roster has not been impacted by positive coronavirus tests since the season began last week, already have a “COVID cop,” president and CEO Derrick Hall told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports.
“We are employing a compliance officer. It’s actually a leader in our company, a VP, who we’ve asked to take on that role,” Hall said Thursday. “He’s very meticulous. He’s outstanding, he’s done a terrific job thus far.
“So we had already done that before the league had decided to do so — somebody who can point out the problems and stand up to the players and take a walk through the clubhouse and the training room and the dugout and travel with the team.”
Unlike the NBA, NHL and WNBA, baseball is not playing in a bubble environment. Hall sees it like this: It’s on each team to create its own coronavirus-free bubble.
That half of the Marlins’ roster became infected with the virus, causing game postponements and thus impacting other teams, shows what happens when a bubble is popped. By playing the Philadelphia Phillies in a series before some of the positive tests were reported, it appears Miami potentially infected members of another team.
“I think what the Marlins showed us, and it’s a shame it happened … is we can’t let our guards down,” Hall said.
“I know it’s human nature to feel like, ‘OK, I’m safe, it’s been good, I can step out and get something to eat … I can drop the mask for a few minutes,’ but that’s a reminder you really can’t. If you want to stay safe, if you want to get to the finish line, you’ve got to follow the protocol.”
As MLB determines if Marlins players got coronavirus out and about during a preseason visit to Atlanta, it appears the Diamondbacks and other teams have been self-policing themselves.
The compliance officials’ jobs, Hall said, are about holding their respective team accountable.
They must approach players or coaches who are breaking protocol and alert medical and baseball personnel if they determine others aren’t abiding by the safety rules.
“It’s a tough role to be in,” Hall added. “Again, it’s difficult because these are grown men.
“Knowing that a set of eyes are watching you, but it’s for your own good … It’s not a snitch, it’s not a cop, it’s an ally. It’s someone who wants you to maintain your safety and health.”