Angels aren’t overly concerned by coronavirus testing delays
Manager Joe Maddon and general manager Billy Eppler believe the coronavirus testing problems that forced the Angels and four other teams to cancel or delay Monday’s workouts were more of a holiday weekend glitch than a major cause for concern about baseball’s testing procedures.
The Angels pushed Monday’s practice from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then switched it to an optional workout for 12 to 15 players after sample collectors did not show up to Angel Stadium or Blair Field — their alternate training site in Long Beach — on Sunday.
The Angels administered their own saliva tests Sunday and shipped them to Major League Baseball’s testing lab in Salt Lake City. They conducted Sunday’s workouts as scheduled, but Monday’s workouts were delayed to give medical personnel a wider window to administer tests.
Washington, Houston and St. Louis canceled Monday workouts because of a 72-hour delay in receiving COVID-19 test results, and Oakland pushed its first full-squad workout to Monday afternoon because of delays in shipping tests to the lab in Utah.
“I believe this will be a short-lived situation, and I think it has a lot to do with the Fourth of July,” Maddon said. “I want to believe that everything’s going to get straightened out relatively soon. I have not lost any confidence” in the testing protocols.
Timely and accurate testing, according to health experts, is critical for the restart of sports leagues in order to identify and isolate players who test positive for the coronavirus and to prevent the spread of the virus. Per MLB protocol, players are supposed to be tested every other day and receive results within 24 to 48 hours.
Eppler said he was “given a reason” for Sunday’s no-show of test collectors, “but I’m not going to disclose it.” He and team President John Carpino spoke at length with MLB officials about the situation on Sunday and Monday.
“I trust that this was more of a one-time thing, more than anything else — that’s my read of the situation,” Eppler said. “MLB and the test administrators and the lab are doing everything they can to make this run as smooth as possible.
On the day the Angels began training camp, superstar Mike Trout said he might not play because his wife is pregnant and he’s worried about COVID-19.
“We’re in the business of adapting, adjusting and moving forward, so that’s what we’ll do. Part of life is being adaptable and flexible, so the more you can implement those two characteristics, probably the easier life becomes.”
MLB issued a statement Monday saying that the delays were “caused by the holiday weekend” and that the league does “not expect a recurrence.”
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Monday afternoon that a memo sent by the MLB Players Assn. to player agents stated that the union and MLB are “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency of test processing and reporting.”
Though a number of players have expressed concerns about testing issues on the first weekend of summer training camps, Maddon said he did not hear any grumbling among the Angels.
“I know there’s a lot being said via social media and in other markets, but I didn’t have one guy come up to me [Sunday] complaining about anything,” Maddon said early Monday afternoon. “And today, so far, nobody has contacted me.”
The Dodgers will start the season in three weeks, but July 23 felt extremely distant on day one of training camp at Dodger Stadium because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Angels will get their first look at Shohei Ohtani pitching in game-like conditions in about 20 months when he starts the first training-camp intrasquad game on Tuesday. The right-hander is scheduled to throw two or three innings and 40-50 pitches.
Ohtani last pitched in a game in Houston on Sept. 2, 2018, suffering an elbow ligament tear that required Tommy John surgery that October. The two-way star was relegated to designated hitter in 2019 and was scheduled to return to the mound this May or June.
With a pandemic-shortened 60-game season pushed back to July 24, Ohtani is expected to be available to pitch at least once a week and serve as DH three or four times a week for the whole season.
“Last year, I couldn’t contribute to the team pitching-wise, so I was kind of disappointed in that aspect,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “But this year, I’m fully really ready to contribute to both sides. It’s a 60-game season, a sprint, so I’m going to go all out coming out of the gate and try to finish strong.”
Andrew Heaney is scheduled to throw four innings and about 60 pitches in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. Maddon said most starting position players will play and get as many at-bats as they need. … The Angels have intrasquad games scheduled every day for at least the next week to 10 days, Maddon said.
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