Yankees minor leaguer has virus, spring camps begin to empty

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Toronto Blue Jays take batting practice before a baseball game against the New York Yankees Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Tampa. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

TAMPA, Fla. – A New York Yankees minor leaguer tested positive for the coronavirus, the Miami Marlins shut their spring training complex and baseball began bracing for the possibility that opening day could be delayed into May or longer.

On Sunday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed across the country for the next eight weeks. Major League Baseball planned to update teams Monday on its health policy.

On Sunday, a Yankees prospect became the first known player affiliated with MLB to contract COVID-19. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said a “younger player” was affected in Tampa, Florida, without identifying him. Cashman said the player “feels much better” and his symptoms had subsided, but he was still isolated.

“He did not have any interactions with our major league players,” Cashman said on a conference call.

The Marlins, meanwhile, became the first organization to completely close their complex, sending players home from Jupiter, Florida. And Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said his team has “effectively" closed down its training camp in Surprise, Arizona.

The moves by the Marlins and Rangers were team decisions, rather than something mandated by MLB. But there were indications that other camps wouldn't stay open much longer in the wake of the virus, and more shutdowns could set off a chain reaction that would mean no real games for quite a while.

Asked what his biggest baseball concern was, Daniels responded, “I don't really have one to be honest with you, my head's not even there."

“It might have been a few days ago, but it's been pretty solely focused on making sure everyone's got what they need, and everyone's family is taken care of, and that we can get everybody home,” he said. "We're going to have plenty of time to figure out the baseball piece."