(ESPN and Associated Press) – The Philadelphia Phillies are closing their spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida, after five players and three staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, the team announced. Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan that the Toronto Blue Jays also shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin on Thursday after a player exhibited coronavirus symptoms.
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The Phillies’ facility will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control, the team said in a statement Friday.
The first confirmed case occurred Tuesday. Eight staff members tested negative, while 20 players and 12 other staff members are awaiting test results.
The Blue Jays player exhibiting symptoms is a pitcher on the 40-man roster who recently spent time with players in the Phillies’ minor league system, sources told Passan. He has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results.
Multiple players working out at the Blue Jays’ facility said they had not yet been tested. If the player is not an isolated case, testing will ramp up.
“We are being overly precautious with testing,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told ESPN.
The Phillies declined to comment on the implication of the positive tests on the upcoming season, saying it is too early to know.
The facility shutdowns come while Major League Baseball owners and players try to negotiate a deal to begin the season amid the coronavirus pandemic, including health protocols. Some players had recently been working out at spring training sites while practicing social distancing.
The sides had hoped to have players begin testing Tuesday and start a second round of spring training on June 26. Most teams would likely hold those workouts at their home ballparks, rather than at their spring camps in Florida and Arizona.