Spring training 2.0, or "Summer Camp" as MLB calls it, is beginning this week with all 30 clubs holding workouts at their major league ballparks in their home cities. This comes less than two weeks after a series of COVID-19 outbreaks at team spring training facilities, including a dozen positive cases at Phillies camp.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Phillies placed four players -- super utility man Scott Kingery, lefty Ranger Suarez, and righties Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris -- on the 10-day injured list according to the team's official site, though no reason was given. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports all four were placed on the new COVID-19 related injured list.
"I don't have a timetable on those players so I can't really answer that question," manager Joe Girardi said during a conference call with reporters when asked whether any of the four players would be ready for Opening Day.
The COVID-19 injured list was created this season and players can be placed on it for three reasons: they test positive, they show symptoms, or they have contact with someone who is confirmed infected. Players must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart and receive approval from a league medical board to be activated, among other things.
When a player suffers a baseball injury, Article XIII(G)(4) of the collective bargaining agreement allows teams to disclose the nature of the injury, the treatment, and the expected recovery timetable. That does not apply to "non-work-related" injuries, however, and MLB and the MLBPA agree COVID-19 is considered a "non-work-related" injury.
For "non-work-related" injuries Article XIII(G)(4) says teams "may disclose only the fact that a medical condition is preventing the Player from rendering services to the Club and the anticipated length of the Player's absence from the Club." That means when a player is placed on the COVID-19 list, we won't be told. There won't be an official announcement or explanation.
On one hand, the privacy concerns are understandable. On the other hand, fans and media are going to speculate every time a player is placed on the injured list with no explanation, or is randomly replaced on the roster, and that can get messy. Announcing COVID-19 list transactions would at least allow MLB to control the message. Players are free to discuss any personal COVID-19 news.
Kingery hit .258/.315/.474 last year and was expected to be the team's starting second baseman this season. Neris was expected to be the club's closer after saving 28 games in 2019. Hunter was limited to 5 1/3 innings by arm problems last year and Suarez was in the team's fifth starter conversation. Opening Day will be July 23 or 24.