MLB’s coronavirus testing is already days behind; teams now canceling workouts

Assistant general manager David Forst, left, of the Oakland Athletics speaks during a press conference at O.co Coliseum in 2014.

 

Baseball is running into the same problem as the rest of the United States: Its coronavirus testing is frustratingly too slow. At least two MLB teams canceled Monday workouts because they’ve been waiting days for test results, while two more said they may postpone workouts.

The most egregious case is the Oakland A’s, which had tests collected on Friday. The tests then just sat in boxes all weekend because of the Fourth of July holiday, and they had not been shipped to MLB’s testing facility in Utah as of Monday morning.

David Forst, the A’s general manager, flatly told his team that the delay was MLB’s fault.

“At this point, the blame lies with (the testing company) and MLB, and I won’t cover for them like I did earlier today,” Forst wrote in a memo obtained by The Athletic. “Despite having our schedule a week ahead of time, they didn’t alert us to the possibility of any complications around July 4th, and once there were issues, they did nothing to communicate that to us or remedy the situation.

“If possible, I’m as frustrated and pissed as you are.”

MLB claimed Friday that just 1% of players tested positive for the virus, but it later trickled out that the A’s, Brewers and Giants, among others, did not have their test results in yet. The league’s medical protocols say that players will get tested for the virus every other day, and get the results within 48 hours.

If Monday’s cancellations are of any indication, failure to hit that standard are going to cost the league real games _ if the games ever start in the first place.

The A’s canceled a Sunday workout and the Astros and Nationals canceled Monday workouts while waiting for test results. When Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle talked to reporters Sunday, he was still waiting for results from a Friday test, the second time he said results had taken longer than 48 hours.

“We’ve got to clean that up,” Doolittle said.

On Monday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo admitted the season can’t happen like this.

“Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests,” Rizzo said in a statement. “We cannot have our players and staff work at risk ... Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

Four months into the pandemic, America is still dogged by the root cause of the world’s worst outbreak: poor testing.

“We’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed 130,000 people,” Doolittle said Sunday. “We’re way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down. And, like, look at where other developed countries are in their response to this.

“We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are like the reward of a functioning society.”

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