The Orioles won’t formally identify players who test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and will keep that information internal, according to general manager Mike Elias.
“We feel it’s not our place to attempt to provide a play-by-play, minute-by-minute update on the status of such individuals,” he said in a Zoom call with the media. “I think there is a lot you’re going to be able to infer once the season goes on. But this is a private health matter for these individuals.”
Elias has been impressed by the testing protocols that have been developed by the league. However, the Orioles are reluctant to disclose the names of players potentially dealing with the virus because there could be false positive tests. Players could also be quarantined simply because they are part of a contract trace.
“Ultimately we are going to leave it up to the players to talk about the experience themselves,” Elias said. “That’s the way we’re handling it. I understand it’s not perfect. It’s the best approach and will give those players and staff members the best measure of privacy and the luxury of time for their individual situations to play out.”
Outfielders Anthony Santander and Dwight Smith Jr. have yet to appear in workouts open to the media.
Both Elias and manager Brandon Hyde have been pleased with the way camp has gone so far and they are moving toward filling all 60 available spots — including potentially adding players from outside the organization, such as through waiver claims.
The Orioles have 45 players in camp as of July 7. The club has not yet opened a secondary site for taxi-squad players.
“I think we’d like to get at 60 or close to 60 as soon as we feel safe and able to accommodate that number of players without stressing the grounds crew and just the space in the clubhouse and the schedule and all of that,” Elias said. “With some of these guys, there’s not a lot of rush to get them here because realistically they are not competing for the Opening Day roster. So, we’re just going to wait until we have our second site ready to get everyone here.
“With our testing, we’re not cutting any corners.”
MLB is still facing challenges to begin the season July 23. Several key major-league players have opted out of the season, including pitchers Mike Leake (Diamondbacks), David Price (Dodgers) and Joe Ross (Nationals), outfielder Ian Desmond (Rockies) and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals). There have also been numerous cases of players testing positive for the virus.
Nonetheless, Elias is confident the season will start on time.
“We’ve made a decision as an industry, and almost from a societal level, that it is important to try and play baseball and play sports with everything that’s going on,” he said. “We think we can do it safely. We think this sport lends itself to playing it safely. In these circumstances, we’re trying to understand the best way to do this.
“It seems very possible and very plausible to me that we can have a successful season and not have an outside health situation on our hands as the result of this season. I like the way we’re approaching this and I just hope everything smooths out across the league. In time, I think it will.”
On the field, the Orioles will begin their intrasquad games on Wednesday, July 8. Tommy Milone and Thomas Eshelman have been named the starters for that first matchup.
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