Positive coronavirus tests halt Phillies, Blue Jays spring training — and possibly the 2020 MLB season

A Phillies spring training field.
(Image credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Five players and three staff members of the Philadelphia Phillies have tested positive for COVID-19 at the team's spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida, ESPN reports.

The team announced a shutdown of the facility on Friday, joining the Toronto Blue Jays, who closed their spring headquarters in Dunedin, Florida on Thursday after an unnamed player exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus. In a statement, the Phillies said that "all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely ... and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected."

The positive tests do not bode well for Major League Baseball in 2020. Team owners and the league's players' union have been engaged in a weeks-long, fan-alienating battle over money that has seen the possible number of games played this season drop from 82 to 70 to potentially 50 — or zero. All 30 teams' spring training facilities are in Florida and Arizona, two states where numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases have exploded in recent days. In their statement, the Phillies said that "in terms of the implications of this outbreak on the Phillies' 2020 season, the club declines comment, believing that it is too early to know."

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Jacob Lambert

Jacob Lambert is the art director of TheWeek.com. He was previously an editor at MAD magazine, and has written and illustrated for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and The Millions.