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MLB Investigation Finds Marlins Were “Lapse” in Following Protocols, But Did Not Go to Nightclubs

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Marlins CEO Derek Jeter held a virtual press conference Monday afternoon to turn the page on a turbulent week and set expectations (on and off the field) for his team moving forward.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

An MLB investigation found that the COVID-19 outbreak that plagued the Miami Marlins in late July was caused by “very lapse” social distancing measures, including congregating in their hotel bar and not wearing masks. However, contrary to reports by some in the media, they did not attend any nightclubs or other bars outside of the team hotel in Atlanta or Philadelphia.

While MLB conducted their investigation, the Marlins handled their own examination. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter admitted that, while the rumors of nightclubs and partying were untrue, the Fish still did not protect themselves as well as they could have. Jeter said that a couple of players left the team hotel to runs errands, such as getting coffee or buying clothes, and another player left to have dinner at a teammate’s house. All of these activities are considered “moderate risk,” according to the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases. Jeter added that players hung out in large groups without masks.

“There was no salacious activity, there was no hanging out at bars, no clubs, no running around Atlanta,” Jeter said. “What it boiled down to on this particular trip was guys were around each other, they got relaxed, and they let their guard down. Should they have been doing that? No. But that’s been addressed.”

Jeter also addressed the claims that Marlins players were the ones to make the final decision through a “group chat” on whether or not to play their most recent game on July 26. He said that after being notified early in the morning that three players had new positive test results, those players were isolated at the hotel, and all relevant parties and entities made a combined decision to play the game.

“The league had the results, our organization was aware, the Phillies organization was aware, the joint committee was aware, and they decided to go out and play the game,” Jeter said.

After almost a week in isolation at their team hotel, all the players that tested positive took an 18-hour trip back to Miami on a sleeper bus to resume quarantine there. According to Jeter, none of the players that tested positive exhibited severe symptoms. All of them were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. One of those that had a mild case was infielder Miguel Rojas.

“I had a couple of rough days when I was in Philadelphia,” Rojas said on the latest episode of the Marlins YouTube show Inside the Clubhouse. “It was tough the first couple of days when I started feeling the fever, sore throat, headache, and all that kind of stuff. But I’m finally feeling a little bit better, and hopefully I can get this negative test soon so I can rejoin the group.”

Jeter said that he and the quarantined players still expect to return to the field during this season at some point (in other words, none of them are opting out for the season). According to MLB’s COVID protocols for 2020, a player must be symptom-free for 72 hours, and test negative twice in order to rejoin his team.

Although everyone’s fight with the virus is different, Jeter alluded to some players who tested positive over the summer and said that they took around 20 days to return to play. For some more context, New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman was put on the COVID injured list on July 11, and cleared to play on July 31. Of course, he still needs to build back his strength with a few bullpen sessions before he is game-ready. We should expect the same for the Marlins pitchers, as well. Of the 18 positive player cases stemming from this outbreak, eight of them were active relief pitchers and three had reportedly been in the Opening Day starting rotation.

The Marlins return to play tonight for the first time in nine days. Pablo López will make his first start of the year. Minor-league call-ups include Monte Harrison and Jorge Guzman, and Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce will be activated from the injured list.