Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said small changes to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be implemented soon amid outbreaks that have forced the reshuffling of the schedule.
In an interview with ESPN.com on Wednesday, Manfred said that he believes MLB's existing measures are working, despite more than 30 members -- players and others -- of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals organizations testing positive for COVID-19. Still more can be done, he said.
Manfred said MLB will be adjusting rules to keep the players and staff safe, which includes upgrading to the use of surgical, not cloth, masks on team planes; doing more to ensure people stay in their seats on the planes to maintain social distancing; staggering eating times in-flight so that people near one another don't have their masks off at the same time; emphasizing use of outdoor space, instead of the clubhouse, at stadiums; and spreading out players and crew in the bullpens, perhaps into the empty seats down the lines.
He attributed the run of COVID-19 through the clubhouses of the Marlins and Cardinals to a lack of following the rules set down before the start of the delayed season.
"We believe, in the two serious outbreaks, that we can identify deviations from the protocols that resulted in the situations that we had," Manfred stated. "The key is vigilance. It's vigilance on the part of the commissioner's office, club officials, players and everyone involved in the game."
The commissioner also confirmed that 28-man rosters will be permanent as of Thursday in the regular season and asked for those players to continue their caution under trying circumstances.
"I recognize, the owners recognize, these protocols are really detailed," Manfred told ESPN. "The vast majority of players are working hard to adhere to them. That's why we have 28 clubs that have been darn good, but because we had two outbreaks that had small deviations, that doesn't mean the protocols are bad. The protocols remain viable as a mechanism to keep our players safe."
--Field Level Media