Houston Astros pitching coach Brent Strom and the team's big-league pitchers were absent from camp on Sunday, a day after the club cancelled its workout because a staff member had been potentially exposed to a COVID-19-positive individual. Manager Dusty Baker noted that the individual the Astros are concerned about having been infected worked around the pitchers' dressing area, per Mark Berman of the local FOX affiliate. As such, Strom and the staff have been tested and are awaiting the results.
On Saturday, the Astros released the following statement:
"As part of MLB's testing and reporting plan, we were alerted that a staff member was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization. Out of an abundance of caution, we have cancelled today's workout. We are working closely with MLB and our team physicians to follow the established testing and cleaning protocols so that we can safely bring our players and staff back to the field as soon as possible."
This is the first known time that a team has cancelled its workouts or had an entire unit sit out due to potential exposure to someone who had been infected with the novel coronavirus. It is not the first time the Astros have had to alter their plans out of an abundance of caution, however, as Houston was forced to forego its scheduled workout on Monday due to a lag in testing results.
The Astros have not been the only team impacted this week, either. The Washington Nationals, Houston's opponent in last year's World Series, also had to punt on their practice attempt. Our Dayn Perry touched on other teams who had their workouts affected by COVID-19 this week.
Major League Baseball intends to launch its 2020 regular season on July 23. It's unclear how the league will handle similar situations during the year, when the schedule is less flexible.
Originally, the season was scheduled to begin on March 26. About two weeks prior, the league was forced to scrap those plans -- along with every other sports league -- due to the spread of COVID-19.