Despite a COVID-19 outbreak involving at least 11 Miami Marlins players, Major League Baseball has no plans at present to cancel or pause its 2020 regular season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman's report came after commissioner Rob Manfred conducted his weekly meeting with the 30 team owners on Monday afternoon. According to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, Manfred during that meeting told owners that, "We believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe."
Manfred and the owners intend to instead "redouble health directives," such as players wearing masks or facial coverings in the clubhouse, and "reinforce on-field behavior prohibitions" against gestures like high fives, per Scott Miller of Bleacher Report.
Because there are no clear guidelines in the agreement between the union and the league as it pertains to what would prompt a shutdown, that discretion is to be made by Manfred alone. He was asked earlier in July, during a radio interview with Dan Patrick, what would have to happen in order for him to consider exercising that power.
"I don't have a firm number of days in mind (to pause the season). I think the way that I think about it, Dan, is in the vein of competitive integrity, in a 60-game season," Manfred said. "If we have a team or two that's really decimated with a number of people who had the virus and can't play for any significant period of time, it could have a real impact on the competition and we'd have to think very, very hard about what we're doing."
Clearly, Manfred doesn't feel the Marlins outbreak will have a "real impact on the competition." Rather, Manfred seems to subscribe to the same school of thought as Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who said on Monday morning: "I do think we expected something like this at some point, and maybe getting it out of the way early will help teach us things that we'll avoid repetitions of this going forward."
Also on Monday, Manfred during an interview with Tom Verducci on MLB Network said, "I don't put this in the 'nightmare' category ... We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play."
Call it wishful thinking or blind optimism, but it doesn't seem like Monday's news about the Marlins will mark the end of the season.