Marlins’ group text was deciding factor in playing vs. Phillies after COVID-19 outbreak

The Miami Marlins have shut down after 14 members of the team tested positive for COVD-19. It was revealed that Sunday morning a group text by the team – not Major League Baseball – was the deciding factor in playing the team's game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies as a COVID-19 outbreak was on the horizon

After learning Sunday morning that their starting pitcher and two other players tested positive for the virus, with an outbreak looming, Marlins players turned to their starting shortstop, Miguel Rojas, to determine if they'd play on Sunday.

"We made the decision that we’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can,” Rojas said, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. "(Not playing) was never the mentality. We knew that this would happen at some point. We came to the ballpark and we were ready to play. That was never our thought that we weren’t going to play.”

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly (left) stands on the mound waiting for a pitching change with catcher Francisco Cervelli (29), first baseman Jesús Aguilar (24), third baseman Brian Anderson (top left) and shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) during Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“He’s kind of an unofficial team captain of our club,” added Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “He’s always texting the group and getting the feelings of the group. So when we’re dealing with situations or things, that’s usually who we’re working through.”

Major League Baseball issued a 113-page operations manual to all team employees before the start of the reformatted season, outlining on-field rules, testing procedures and the protocol for if a player tests positive. 

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The league's detailed manual says that after a player tests positive for COVID-19, the club must conduct contact tracing to identify the individuals who had close contact with the infected individual. The Marlins, as a team, flew together to Philadelphia from Atlanta before traveling by bus to the hotel. They also dressed near each other in the clubhouse and sat together in the dugout.