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Angels among MLB teams delaying workouts because of coronavirus testing snafus

Angels center fielder Mike Trout throws during practice at Angel Stadium on July 4.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Angels are one of at least four teams that experienced coronavirus testing delays on the first weekend of training camp, issues that forced two teams to cancel Monday’s workouts on the day Major League Baseball is scheduled to release its pandemic-shortened 60-game regular-season schedule.

Sample collectors did not show up to Angel Stadium or Blair Field in Long Beach on Sunday, prompting players to administer their own tests and have the team ship them to Major League Baseball’s testing lab in Utah, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment. The Angels’ alternate training site for about half of their 60-man player pool is at Cal State Long Beach.

The team held its Sunday workouts, as scheduled, but Monday’s workout at Angel Stadium was delayed from 9 a.m. to noon to make sure testers were present.

Timely and accurate testing, according to health experts, is critical for the re-start of sports leagues in order to identify and isolate players who test positive for the coronavirus and to prevent the spread of the virus among players.

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The Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros also had testing problems over the holiday weekend, the Nationals and Astros canceling Monday’s workout because of a 72-hour delay in receiving COVID-19 test results and the A’s pushing back their first workout because of delays in shipping tests to the lab in Salt Lake City.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said players were tested Friday but were still awaiting the results of those tests Monday morning. Per MLB protocol, players are supposed to be tested every other day and receive results within 24-48 hours.

“We cannot have our players and staff work at risk,” Rizzo said in a statement Monday. “Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families.

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“Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. 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.”

The A’s tests from Friday were reportedly not shipped as scheduled Saturday because of the holiday and were not expected to arrive in Salt Lake City until early Monday. The team was hoping to hold its first full-squad workout Monday afternoon.

In a text message to reporters Sunday, A’s GM David Forst said the delay was “due to the holiday yesterday.” Forst expressed his frustration in a WhatsApp message sent to team employees Sunday night that was obtained by several media outlets:

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“On top of screwing up the logistics of this whole thing, neither MLB nor CDT (the company that collects samples) communicated any of this to us until we pressed them for information, at which point all they could do was apologize, which frankly doesn’t do much for us.”

The Astros reportedly canceled their Monday workout because of a lengthy delay in receiving test results.

“Monday and still no results from Friday,” Houston catcher Martin Maldonado tweeted Monday morning. “We are getting tested today but haven’t gotten the results from my last one.”


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