Report: MLBPA issues response to MLB’s proposed health protocols

An empty Parkview Field minor league baseball stadium is shown in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind. (Mike Moore/The Journal-Gazette via AP)

The Major League Baseball Players Association has reportedly issued a response to MLB’s 67-page health-and-safety proposal designed to guide baseball’s return to action from its COVID-19-induced pause, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

At this time, the union has not issued a public comment on its response.

The response, according to Sherman, was wide-ranging and included notes on testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel, protections for high-risk players and their families, and access to pre- and post-game therapies such as hydrotherapy and sanitization protocols.

Under MLB’s initial proposal, team staff — including players — would be given thermometers for self-screening and would be required to take two tests in quick succession each morning. At the ballpark, people will be given temperature checks twice a day and multiple fluid swabs each week.

According to Sherman, players want this testing volume increased, as daily tests would allow greater comfort and fewer restrictions within the clubhouse and ballpark. However, it remains to be seen if MLB could ensure that level of testing without depleting from the public supply.

In conversations with players and agents, Sherman also noted that having restrictions lifted on showering at stadiums was also on the players’ list of requests. MLB’s proposal discouraged showering at facilities, suggesting that “To the extent showering occurs, clubs should explore modifications to facilities to allow for physical distancing and hygiene.”

Post-game treatments such as saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers were also discouraged in MLB’s original proposal — another reported point of contention for players.

Although the league and players’ association remain divided regarding certain issues — especially pay, as noted by Jeff Passan of ESPN, this response should still represent a step forward in negotiations between the parties, using the shared priorities of health and safety to provide a starting point for further discussions.

“We emphasize that this is a first draft, and will undergo several rounds of changes as we collect comments and suggestions from the clubs, the players’ association, players, and government officials,” MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote in an email to owners, team presidents and CEOs, and general managers that accompanied the protocols.

“The document is designed to set minimum standards and identify best practices, but we have attempted to provide clubs with enough flexibility to achieve the desired health and safety objectives in a manner that is tailored to their particular circumstances, including ballpark configuration, location, and the nature of any local governmental regulations or restrictions,” Halem wrote.

— With files from the Associated Press.

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