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Commissioner Manfred defends COVID-19 safety protocols after players test positive

FILE PHOTO: Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball, takes part in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in New York, U.S., February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

(Reuters) - Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the sport’s COVID-19 safety protocols on Monday as positive coronavirus tests on the Miami Marlins threatened to derail the season days after it began.

"Most of the owners realize that we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season," Manfred told MLB Network here. "The protocols were built in order to allow us to continue to play through those positives. ... We believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe."

Unlike the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, which are resuming their seasons this week, MLB opted not to conduct play inside so-called bubbles that would have seen players compete in quarantined sites, a decision Manfred said was rooted in the practical realities of professional baseball.

“We would have had to have multiple locations probably just in order to have enough facilities to make it work. The numbers of people involved and the numbers of people to support the number of players was much, much larger in our sport,” said Manfred.

While resolute that games could continue safely, Manfred said there were some circumstances in which the season could be suspended - in part or in full.

“A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue,” said Manfred. “You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Cooney

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