BOSTON — Brandon Nimmo saw reports Monday about the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak and said his first thoughts were concern about the players and whether the Mets’ scheduled game at Fenway Park might be postponed or canceled.
Assured his team was playing, Nimmo said his mind wandered to whether the Marlins’ outbreak was from a random exposure or if MLB protocol had been breached.
“We know this spreads through contact, mainly coughing and sneezing so it makes you wonder what might have happened there — that is human nature to be curious about what happened,” Nimmo said. “But the biggest thing is it could be any number of things we can’t control, we are not going to tell players they just can’t do anything outside of playing baseball. Even though we are trying to do the most that we can right now, you never know what is going on off the field.”
With 11 players from the Marlins’ 30-man roster, and two coaches, having tested positive for the coronavirus, the abbreviated MLB season has reached an early critical juncture. The Braves were exposed to the Marlins last week in exhibition games before they came to Citi Field for their season-opening series. So the Mets, by extension, have potentially been exposed to the outbreak.
But after receiving their regularly scheduled tests on Friday and Sunday (without indication of positive tests), Nimmo says there is a level of confidence in the clubhouse the Mets will escape unscathed. Much of Nimmo’s faith about preventing a future infection within the team stems from the steps the Mets have taken, from spreading out over six busses (with five players and five staff members aboard each) on their trip here from New York in the early hours of Monday morning, to holding team meetings in spacious hotel conference rooms as opposed to cramped quarters at Fenway Park.
“The hotel, we are staying in two levels where the whole team is, the traffic is just us, it’s like a bubble,” Nimmo said. “We were 10 people to a bus coming here and make sure we maintain distance and wearing our masks, so we are strict. We are still going to call each other out that we need to be consistent and we keep on learning, as we go to each field and learn our ways in and around.
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“I’m still optimistic about it. It’s real unfortunate that happened [with the Marlins], I wish them all the best and I hope this is a hiccup and not something that lingers, but as far as we’re concerned we are still doing everything we can and I still think we have a real good thing going here.”
The Mets emphasized social distancing during camp — to the point general manager Brodie Van Wagenen requested that players stretch the 6-foot rule to 10 feet — but once the regular season started Friday it was difficult for players to avoid the temptation of a celebratory high five. After the Mets beat the Braves in the opener, the team congregated on the field and went through the line with high fives.
It’s clear the Mets can improve in enforcing that particular protocol.
“We have constant talks about staying with the protocol and being consistent and I feel we did a great job in camp,” manager Luis Rojas said. “This weekend as the season started and emotions were high and we got some fist-bumps, high fives and all that and we reinforced about hand sanitizing, still keeping the distance and doing everything we can do and also outside the facility just the behavior as well, just being solid, knowing we have to be healthy — that is the No. 1 priority. We keep reminding each other.”
Rojas said the team is becoming more strict about wearing masks when players are together, other than on the field.
“There’s a lot of things happening in the world right now,” Rojas said. “But at the same time we’re optimistic about the protocols that MLB put out there and we felt prepared coming to camp and we keep learning each day.”