Is Major League Baseball treating the Cincinnati Reds differently than they have treated other teams when it comes to COVID-19 protocols with regards to returning to play? Late on Monday night C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reported that the Reds had no new positive tests once again, but that multiple players could still be held out of Tuesdays game against Kansas City – if the game is played – due to contact tracing.

That seems a bit confusing given how Major League Baseball has treated other teams. The Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals are the only other teams to have positive tests leads to games being postponed. Both teams had multiple players and coaches test positive early on, only to see both teams have their numbers jump up high teens of positive tests between players and coaching staff. Neither played games again for about two weeks. As of the typing of this on Monday night at 10:35pm ET, the game in Kansas City is still on the schedule, but that could of course change before the game is played.

The situation between the Marlins and Cardinals, and the Reds, are very different. Multiple tests coming back positive is different than just one. Multiple tests being positive shows clear spread within the organization. One positive test doesn’t show that – but it also does not mean that it’s not happening yet, either. The incubation period between exposure and positive testing does not happen overnight.

But is the Reds situation different than the one that was facing the Philadelphia Phillies, who had their games postponed after they played against the Marlins for a day after it was known that they had positive tests on their team? Yes, it is different – the Reds had a positive test and the Phillies did not. But the Phillies didn’t play for a week after that. Major League Baseball waited to see how their roster continued to not test positive for an entire week, Monday through Sunday, before allowing them to play the following Monday against the Yankees.

The Cincinnati Reds, though, who knowingly have at least one positive test among their players, could be back on the field after just three off days – half as long as the Phillies got off – and could also be playing with a short roster due to contact tracing making some players unable to play for the team on Tuesday.

Why would this play out in such a manner? If the Phillies, with no positive tests, got a week between games due to “close contact” to a team with known outbreaks before they had to return – with a full roster at their disposal, why does Cincinnati with a known positive have to return in half of the time without a full roster of players who have tested negative (acknowledging that the player who tested positive will not be available)?

The Reds and the Royals don’t have a series in the future set up, but the current series is just two games. Both teams share one off day moving forward – September 17th. If this were a scheduling thing where there were just no possible make up date available, the options could be to just nix the series and the teams are playing 58 games – something Major League Baseball has spoken of for both the Marlins and Cardinals if weather, for example, were to take out make up dates in the future given how they have already had to alter up their schedules. But there is a potential date in the future where the teams could play a doubleheader (or even just one game if they were to decide that as long as the players tested negative on Tuesday that they could play the Wednesday game at full strength).

The consistency just seems strange here. It doesn’t really make much sense. And for the Reds, unless they requested the ability to play short-handed instead of using September 17th as a makeup date for some reason, really puts them at a disadvantage if they are having to take the field on Tuesday without a full 28-man roster of players.

Update: August 18 at 11:30am ET

The game between the Reds and Royals on Tuesday has been postponed. There is a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday evening between the two teams, starting at 5:05pm ET.

27 Responses

  1. seadog

    This could get really ugly for our Reds

    There are “conflicting” stories about the travel to Kansas City. Are they even there? Probably not.

    I don’t think the left hand even knows what the right hand is doing. MLB is playing by the seat of there pants.

    Trevor Bauer said it best—They are making up rules as the season goes along. And they will probably continue too.

    At this point do they have a choice?? May as well keep making up rules as they go. Just get that playoff $$. That is what it looks like.

    Rules are changing for players at Alt site— let’s go from 30 to 45. Next week will be 60

    Playoffs. May as well include everyone at this point. There are teams that will not play 60 games. No matter how many 7 inning games are played. Do they go by winning % instead? That will be next, just wait.

    It is a farce at this point.

    • Doug Gray

      What are the conflicting stories? Everyone I’ve seen for the last 30 hours or so has been reporting that the team isn’t heading to Kansas City until Tuesday morning (assuming they get the approval to go, of course).

      • seadog

        Correct. 24 (30) hours at this point is days. 48 hours ago I thought they would play two today. Did not happen. Reports said it would/may. Now reports say they will fly out Tuesday morning. I won’t believe it til I see them on the field in KC. I will be surprised if they play any games in KC—St Louis is not far. I think that is where they pick up the season.

    • RojoBenjy

      I suppose to be fair to MLB we should keep in mind that it is their first pandemic.

      I wish they would just call this season what it is—a season of exhibition games. Let’s have fun watching baseball when we can, and let the players play when they can.

      • Moses

        Actually, I believe it’s their second pandemic. There was that whole Spanish Flu one way back when…

      • RojoBenjy

        Moses-

        So you’re saying there IS precedent. Why don’t they just go back to the records and see what was done then?

        😉

  2. Sliotar

    Legendary football coach Bill Parcells had a great quote in regards to managing players, “I don’t treat every player equally …. but, I do treat every player fairly.”

    Every situation MLB encounters in this weird season is unique. “Unfair” did not cross my mind regarding the Reds situation.

    The Phillies probably received an abundance of caution, occurring early on. With the Reds, if MLB had not allowed some time to assess incubation, that would have been criticized online, probably including RLN.

    IMO, MLB is acting as if every team is going to get in 60 games … and, if that is true, there can’t be many more delays around the league.

    The Phillies still haven’t caught up to the Reds games-wise. PHI needs to get in 43 in 41 days to reach 60. Marlins … 44 in 41 days. And, the Cardinals … yikes.

  3. Rednat

    mlb hopefully will realize soon that they are using the wrong tool to screen. they are trying to hammer a nail in a piece of plywood with a screwdriver with these antigen tests. there is no and i mean NO reason to test a player who is asymptomatic with this test. all it does is create confusion and unnecessary worry.

    an asymptomatic player with a positive test has just as much chance to spread or contract the virus than an asymptomatic player with a negative test.

    the best screening test is a thorough review of systems and physical exam with full vitals before the game. if a player passes these test he is good to play ball. no need to test. if the examining provider feels the player may be coming down with something based on symptoms and clinical exam findings, then you can use your antigen test to help make a clinical decision.

    i do think routine blood work would be a good idea as well. as the first objective findings in the covid syndrome are elevated liver enzymes and low white blood count. these would be much more worrisome findings in a player than a positive antigen test.

    I am trying to convince Doug and Doc that this is the way to go but so far they aren’t buying it ! lol

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, we aren’t buying it because it doesn’t make an ounce of sense, so maybe stop posting it?

    • Doc

      If you want to convince me, start by listing your medical/science credentials. I didn’t see your response yesterday when Doug asked if you were a doctor.

      I am a retired family physician, with practice experience in primary care, urgent care, emergency care and life insurance. I have practiced medicine in various forms for 30 years. Based on my experience in medicine, I am not buying your medical approach, but it would certainly affect my consideration of your approach were I to know your medical background in offering such.

      I also hold a degree in chemical engineering with several years of experience working in that field.

      What are your credentials?

      • RedNat

        Internal medicine doc here in indiana for 22 years. Just randomly testing asymptomatic people for coronavirus makes just about as much sense as testing asymptomatic people for influenza, strep throat, legionnaires disease. Any other respiratory illness. These antigen tests should be used to confirm the suspicions that a patient has covid syndrome. They should not be used as a screening tool for a given population.

  4. CallowayPost

    I mean, I would imagine the hotel accommodations, safety setup, screenings, and security protocols are already established in KC…why not make a decision and send two of each player type (IF, OF, Starter/Bullpen) ahead of the team, knowing you may have some players held off the roster?

    Yeah, it may not be the lineup you want to put in ink compared to the regulars, but it gets our backup where they need to be.

    I understand that it’s asking players to travel with added risk, but this is already a normal thing, having players drive hours in advance to a city, knowing they’ll be on the bench as backup a few games, before sending them back.

    I also understand the service-time and the options you’d have to burn to make these moves, but if MLB is willing to reactionary to this, changing up Covid rules on the fly, I believe these transactional issues can be addressed, as this season is so unique, making different decisions on a case by case basis is quite the norm.

    Pay the players who travel MLB pay, don’t penalize teams and players transaction wise as this effects future decisions as an organization, and certainly don’t arbitrarily force teams to do things you don’t ask of others.

    I mean, if options are the reason you don’t call a player up or allow a bigger taxi squad, then these players are only there to make sure that they at least play SOME baseball, and are risking Covid infection only for the sake of their development.

    • Jim Walker

      Our thoughts crossed in mail so to speak.

  5. Jim Walker

    The situation is fluid leading to rules being modified on the fly based on the learning experiences from previous situations. This is OK by me with the proviso that the Reds not be cornered into playing with a short roster or forced into awkward roster moves due to COVID in order to maintain a full roster.

    Perhaps rules need to be changed to not require on option be burned when a player is brought as a replacement for a player sidelined due to the COVID situation and to not require a 40 man roster adjustment/ waivers to bring up then send back down a guy not on the 40 man who is brought up as a COVID replacement.

  6. Tom Reeves

    First of all, I’m glad we even have a chance to watch Reds baseball. That’s my baseline and I’m grateful.

    As for being treated “fairly,” I think that’s the wrong measure. The league has to make the best decisions to protect the players and staff with the best available information. Each week, the information changes and with those changes, the league and teams react. What happened to Philly because of the Marlins sucks. It might have also been the correct decision based on the information at the time. The Reds might be treated differently this week and that’s okay. And another team might be treated completely differently next week. As my dad would often quote Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Consistency and fair are two words we should forget this summer in regards to baseball schedules.

    What’s unfair is someone’s life being cut short because of a preventable disease. What’s unfair are all the people out of work. Skipping a baseball game or playing back to back double headers? Man, that’s what we all need to be grateful for the chance to do. How lucky are we to get to watch inconsistent baseball?!

    As with every baseball season that’s ever been played, only one team has any chance of being happy at the end. And I’ll be just as bummed as anyone if it’s not the Reds. However, baseball has been the background to every summer of my life – since 1975. This year, I’m just a bit more grateful it’s being played.

    • TR

      Your comment is a reflection of the way I feel. I didn’t think there would a season this year, but we have the beautiful game of baseball to breakup our routine of getting through the pandemic. I think of how stressful it is for people who have lost jobs, families in close quarters especially with children, and the elderly without someone to be with. It’s not an easy task to coordinate 30 baseball teams in a short season with Covid-19 still a threat. I doubt the Reds are being treated unfairly.

  7. VaRedsFan

    Negative tested players should be allowed to play, or the game should be rescheduled. Take one more day as a precaution, if no more positives, play a doubleheader on Wednesday.

  8. Tom Mitsoff

    The elephant in the comment thread is just how many players might have to be held out, which we have no idea at 8 a.m. Central time Tuesday.

    To minimize the risk of losing players who need to be recalled for this “event” once they have to be removed from the 28-man roster, it makes the most sense to recall players on the 40-man roster who have had their 2020 option used already: Jose DeLeon, Joel Kuhnel, Ryan Hendrix, Tony Santillan, Tyler Stephenson, Alex Blandino, Robel Garcia, Mark Payton, Aristides Aquino and Nick Williams. Bring any of these guys up and there are no issues of having to move anyone off the 40-man roster when quarantined players return.

    Hopefully the Reds won’t need to add as many as 10 players, but any more than that, and you’re getting into players who are not on the 40-man roster and would require a DFA decision at some point.

    Hopefully Mike Moustakas will be coming off the injured list for the next game, so at least one player will have to come off the 28-man roster for that move.

    • Charlie Waffles

      Wouldn’t that be something if the Reds had to place several players on the Covid IL for a couple of days to call up the ones you stated. And then they come out of KC with 2 wins. You have 3 OF in Aquino, Payton, and N. Williams, a Catcher in Stephenson, and 2 INF in Blandino and R. (not Jose) Garcia.
      There is a general idea as to who the positive player is. But we have no clue as to who the other players would be that might have to sit out. My guess would be the position players that played the last game vs. PIT. So, they might have to dip down into the non-40 man roster players, or play with a short roster for 2 games.
      I’m sure Bell could patch together a lineup out of this and whatever players don’t have to sit out. It’s not ideal, but it could work for 2 games in KC. However, I wouldn’t want to go to STL for 4 games with that roster afterwards.
      And that’s a good point about Moose, if he is ready to be re-activated from the IL. That would certainly help immensely.

  9. doofus

    Let us face it Reds fans, the 2020 baseball season is a double-asterisk.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    Jon Morosi reports that the Reds are traveling to KC, so there will be a game of some sorts tonight. 😉

    • Doug Gray

      This is both true and untrue. He was just on MLB Network and noted that while the team is traveling, there’s a chance the game could still be postponed until tomorrow where they’d play a doubleheader.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Yes, I just saw those follow-up reports on Twitter.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        And now Heyman tweets that the game tonight will be postponed in favor of a doubleheader Wednesday.

  11. Don

    I do not think the Reds are being shortchanged with only 2,3or4 days as long as they do not have to play short handed. If they are required to sit players due to contract tracing, then I think the games should be postponed.
    The Reds should not be forced to play shorthanded because the Cards, Marlins, Phillies were not.

    I understand there is always new information but MLB should be working to have as equal and fair competition for all the teams in all games. The precedent has been set 3 times before the Reds, if the team is not at full strength due to Covid, games are postponed until the team is at full strength.

    If the Cards, Marlin and Phillies had to play the games with whomever was available at the time of the scheduled games then the Reds should as well.

    It is OK to make up rule changes with new information but not if it results in what can be reasonably considered a significant disadvantage for one of the participants in a competition.

  12. Todd Whitson

    On a side note: Has anyone heard any updates on Moustakas? Any chance he plays tomorrow?

    • Doug Gray

      Working on writing about it now, but there’s a good chance he’s activated tomorrow.