On Monday, the Astros became another yet MLB team to lose practice time due to a delay in receiving virus test results. The Oakland A's have not practiced at all because a shipping issue over the holiday weekend, but at least least other teams including the Angels, Nationals and Astros have been waiting for results since Friday. The Nationals and Astros both confirmed they had been waiting 72 hours for results that caused them to cancel Monday workouts. The MLB and the lab in Utah had promised results in 24 to 48 hours at most.
Of all the issues baseballs faced when resuming activities during a pandemic, the speed of testing response didn't really register on the radar, but it is clear the increased testing is going to offer some complications for teams around the league as labs struggle to keep pace.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise. The United States has been plagued with testing issues since the pandemic gripped the country back in March. Even with independent labs and baseball's resources, testing hundreds of people for COVID-19 — remember both team and staff must be tested — is proving to be daunting.
What impact this might have on the season as it progresses is unknown, but it cannot be a good omen that some of the very first workouts of teams have been slowed or canceled due not to positive tests but no results at all.
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It certainly provides a competitive advantage to teams who can workout. The Yankees have already announced their first split squad game which will air on their YES network in New York. Compare that to the A's who have yet to take the field and the problem is magnified.
Understandably, A's GM Dave Forst was infuriated by the delay. In a lengthy message sent to players via WhatsApp and obtained by The Athletic. He said, in part, "On top of screwing up the logistics of this whole thing, neither MLB nor CDT (the company that collects the samples) communicated any of this to us until we pressed them for information, at which point all they could do was apologize, which frankly doesn’t really do much for us."
In a press release from the Astros, GM James Click said, "Despite these delays over the holiday weekend, we’re optimistic that the this process will be ironed out and we’ll be back on the field and ready to compete for a championship soon."
We'll see. Until then, at least a handful of teams will have to settle for a bit of a late start in what is sure to be an interesting, if abbreviated, season.