How Detroit Tigers have avoided COVID-19 outbreak in clubhouse

When Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire is in the clubhouse and notices a player without a mask, he is quick to dish out a reminder about the safety protocols stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mask, please,” Gardenhire says.
That doesn’t happen every day. But when it does, Gardenhire said it can be funny to “blow somebody up” over not wearing a mask, as long as it’s not a repeated offender. Those conversations, however, are rare nowadays.
The coaching staff set the precedent from the beginning of summer camp in July with a zero-tolerance policy. Players remind their teammates through face-to-face conversations and group text messages. Anytime there’s an outbreak, like with the Miami Marlins or St. Louis Cardinals, a new meeting is called.
Gardenhire’s request is simple: “Your responsibilities as a player are to your family and this baseball family. You have to take care of yourself off the field and do the right things.” Through personal and team respect, the Tigers have avoided a COVID-19 outbreak.
On Monday, MLB announced the Cardinals had 13 positive COVID-19 tests – seven players, six staff members – and would not travel to Comerica Park for a four-game series Tuesday through Thursday. While the Tigers would rather be playing, they’ll shift gears to three days of practice before restarting the season in Pittsburgh on Friday.
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“We’re not writing the script right now,” Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd said Tuesday. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen. We can’t control what other teams are going to do, right?
“We can take care of ourselves. We can take care of our business. We can be vigilant in what we’re doing. And, in that, continue down that path and do the best that we can as a team both on and off the field.”
As the Tigers spend the next three days at Comerica Park in summer camp-like fashion, Gardenhire remains optimistic the season will be completed. The team is fixing the starting rotation, practicing the shift, doing infield and outfield drills, taking swings in the cages and letting pitchers throw bullpen sessions. By Wednesday or Thursday, pitchers and hitters will square off against each other.
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Almost as if nothing happened, Boyd will take the ball Friday and march onto the mound at PNC Park. In reality, the valuable routine baseball offers has been abruptly disrupted.
That doesn’t totally upset Gardenhire, though. The 62-year-old would rather protect himself – diagnosed in 2017 with prostate cancer – and his players than risk an outbreak in exchange for a four-game series.
“I’m as worried as anybody else,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t think my level of anxiety is any higher than a lot of other people’s because I’ve been through cancer. I’ve been through a few things like that, you know, diabetic problem. As long as our guys are doing the right stuff, I’m good with it.
“I’m not going to run out on these guys unless it gets really bad in our camp. Then I would have a hard time. It would really scare me.”
The two COVID-19 outbreaks, at least so far, seem to be from a lapse in judgment among players. Miami CEO Derek Jeter said two players violated the health and safety protocols, but they weren’t “running all around town” after the exhibition games July 21 and 22 in Atlanta. The severity of the Marlins’ outbreak became noticeable during the three-game opening series in Philadelphia.
“There is no way to identify how this got into our clubhouse,” Jeter said Monday. “(But) some of our traveling party had a false sense of security. This is a wakeup call.”
Though a couple of Cardinals players reportedly went to a casino before their organization’s outbreak started, team president John Mozeliak denied those claims. Evaluating each situation, Boyd wouldn’t call either team a disappointment; passing judgment “is not my place,” he said.
“We can’t control what the Cardinals do,” Boyd said. “We can’t control what the Pirates are going to do, but right now we know what we can do. And we’ll do the b…