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Marlins’ season on hold due to COVID-19

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manusapon kasosod/iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Just days after kicking off their shortened regular season, the Miami Marlins have put gameplay on hold.

Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that the team’s games will be postponed through Sunday after numerous Marlins players were diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week,” the league said in a statement.

“The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care,” the league said.

ESPN reported Monday that multiple Marlins players had COVID-19 — one day after the Marlins played the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies’ Monday night game against the New York Yankees was canceled, as was the Marlins’ Monday night game against the Baltimore Orioles.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the remainder of the home-and-home series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees has been postponed (NYY @ PHI tonight, and PHI @ NYY Wednesday and Thursday),” MLB said Tuesday. “As a result of these postponements, the Yankees will now play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday in order to create more scheduling flexibility later in the season. Additional rescheduling during the week of August 3rd will be announced later this week.”

The Marlins began their 60-game season last Friday against the Phillies, winning two out of the three games in the series.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

MLB postpones 2 baseball games as Marlins members test positive for COVID-19

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Pete Van Vleet/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Two Major League Baseball games scheduled for Monday were postponed as coronavirus testing is underway, the league confirmed in a statement.

The Miami Marlins canceled their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles scheduled for Monday night after multiple members of the team tested positive for the coronavirus, according to sources who told ESPN.

“Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in a statement.

The Marlins wrapped up a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, and as a precaution, the Phillies’ Monday home game against the New York Yankees was also postponed, the MLB announced.

On Sunday, eight Marlins players and two coaches tested positive, sources told ESPN, after four other players had recently tested positive. The Marlins are in self-quarantine in Philadelphia, according Jeter’s statement.

The Marlins expect coronavirus test results later Monday, per the statement. In the meantime, the MLB said it is watching the situation closely.

“Major League Baseball has been coordinating with the Major League Baseball Players Association; the Marlins; the Orioles; the Marlins’ weekend opponent, the Phillies; and club medical staffs, and will continue to provide updates as appropriate,” the league said in a statement.

Representatives from the Phillies, Yankees and Orioles did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment. As of Monday morning, the other scheduled MLB games were not postponed.

The Orioles completed their first three games in Boston over the weekend and were set to play the Marlins this week with three games in Miami and three games in Baltimore. The Marlins played two exhibition games in Atlanta last week before their series in Philadelphia.

MLB began a shortened season last week and is operating under strict rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Fans are not allowed to see games live in stadiums and teams are only competing with clubhouses located in their regional division so that travel is limited.

Under the MLB’s health guidelines, players who test positive for the coronavirus will be isolated from the team until they test negative twice at least 24 hours apart, show no symptoms for 72 hours and receive approval from team doctors.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The return of baseball and potential for youth arm injuries

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Matt_Brown/iStockBy: ERIC MOLLO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) – Major league ballplayers have gotten into full swing with the 2020 season officially underway. Even though the pandemic shut down spring training, professional pitchers were still throwing a lot in preparation for a shortened season amid the pandemic.

High school pitchers were also prepping for what was supposed to be their spring leagues. Under normal circumstances, players at the high school level would be in the midst of a long year of throwing dating back to fall ball. They pitch through winter workouts, their spring seasons, and what would have been summer ball.

Pitchers’ arms in particular are tired after throwing fastballs with full force and curve balls using a twisting arm motion to get the ball to break and spin. Pitchers can throw over 100 times a day on game days, while also lightly tossing on off days. Then, there are the elite pitchers, who also participate in club leagues and showcase tournaments hoping to make it to the college level.

It is a lot of throwing. Over the past two decades, doctors have seen an uptick in Tommy John surgeries among youth pitchers, which are performed after an athlete tears the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow.

With so many operations, sports doctors have said Tommy John surgery has become an epidemic among high school pitchers. A 2015 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found athletes between the ages of 15 to 19 accounted for 56.8% of all Tommy John procedures.

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas is an orthopedic surgeon with the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Alabama. He told ABC’s Todd Ant on the “Perspective” podcast that about 20% of all procedures he performs are of the “Tommy John-type,” and all of that throwing takes its toll on young arms:

“I would say it’s still an epidemic. The problem that we see, though, is that it’s going younger. Over the last decade I do think that the curve has flattened a little bit in terms of just the raw number of cases that we see. I definitely do not think it has gone backwards. I do think it is still climbing… The vast majority of UCL injuries occur in high school athletes. That’s also the most at-risk population because they are still skeletally immature. In a study that we did recently on the UCL repair, the average age was 18, and that means that ranged from 12 to 30.”

Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the attending orthopedic surgeon at the New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center and team physician for the New York Yankees, says now that high school kids have access to professional pitching coaches and facilities, they are more at-risk:

“Essentially, they’re training with young bodies, just like professionals who would have already built up the foundation of being prepared for the intensity of training at their professional level. A 14-year-old is doing strength and conditioning. They’re putting so much stress on their body and they’re competing at higher levels where every time they play, they sense that they have to win. That’s created an atmosphere of increased injury because of this pressure to compete and perform earlier in your life than you normally would have been, say, 30 years ago.”

Like Dr. Dugas, Dr. Ahmad says the athletes who are undergoing Tommy John surgery continue to skew young.

Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John in 1974. The revolutionary surgical operation was a resounding success that allowed John to pitch at the Major League level for many years afterwards.

Tommy John spoke to ABC Radio about his injury and the subsequent surgery:

“I threw the fateful pitch July 17th, 1974. Something was very, very, very wrong. Dr. Jobe examined me. He said, ‘Let’s let it rest for six, seven weeks, and then if we’re lucky, it’ll heal. Then, you start back slowly and you know, and you’ll be able to pitch the rest of the season.’ Well, I did that and I couldn’t.”

High school varsity coach John Sheppard at Morristown Beard in New Jersey has been working with young pitchers for over 25 years, and he believes curveballs may be putting some extra stress on amateur arms. His brother, Rob Shepherd, runs a successful baseball program as head coach at Seton Hall University. He believes young arms should be monitored closely before reaching the college level:

“I think the responsibility is on the coach to make sure that they’re utilizing the players correctly. If you ask a player if he’s OK, he’s going to tell you he’s OK. So, I think the key is with the parents as well as a coach.”

The long layoff for so many amateur baseball players due to the coronavirus pandemic could negatively affect these young arms when it comes time to play again. Dr. Dugas has some recommendations for youth players hoping to get back on the mound next spring or summer:

“It’s all about not throwing fatigued. Pitch count is very important, but you’ll see a kid the first day throw 100 pitches, having just come off of a period of time off. That’s not OK. That interval throwing program, that strengthening program, that time to get the body ready is really important.”

Dr. Ahmad advises pitchers to get proper rest, stick to a reasonable pitch count, and never play with elbow pain:

“The ligament is like a wire hanger and if you bend it enough times, it will finally break… The way we try to manage this is we try to develop a culture now around our young kids where it’s not okay to throw if you’re having elbow pain. You should have a relationship with your parents and your coaches that allows you to express that your elbow doesn’t feel good and have the ability to rest and recover before you put too many bends in that wire hanger, which will mean that it’ll break later on in life.”

Listen to the rest of this past week’s highlights from Perspective here.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

LeBron James calls Black Lives Matter 'a lifestyle,' demands justice for Breonna Taylor

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Scott Clarke / ESPN ImagesBy KARMA ALLEN, ABC News

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — LeBron James praised the Black Lives Matter “lifestyle” and doubled down on calls for justice as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to court for the first time since play was suspended because of the pandemic.

James made the comments on Thursday after the team’s scrimmage against the Dallas Mavericks in Orlando, using his platform “to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor,” a young Black medical worker who was fatally shot by plainclothes officers in her Louisville home in March.

“As one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know, and I want the state of Kentucky to know, that we feel for her and we want justice,” James told reporters. “That’s what it’s all about. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong.”

James, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, reiterated his previous calls to arrest the police officers who killed Taylor, 26, but he also spoke the names of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a white neighborhood watch volunteer who routinely called the police to report anything remotely suspicious, according to police.

James also spoke about George Floyd, 46, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police earlier this year during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, police said.

Members of the NBA, which restarted its season this week after a four-month hiatus, have been some of Taylor’s most outspoken proponents.

“It’s unfortunate that — well, it’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video, to see it. I mean, is that what we need to see, a video of Breonna being killed, for people to realize how bad the situation is?” James asked. “I never shied away from being who I am and speaking about things that not only affect me, hit home for me, but also affect my community and affect Black people. ‘Cause we’ve been going through it a lot.”

Separately, the Lakers star made a point to highlight that, in his opinion, the Black Lives Matter fight against racism and police brutality should not be classified as “a movement.”

“I don’t like the word ‘movement,'” he said, adding that he for Black people he considers it a “lifestyle.”

“This is a walk of life. When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement — it should be a lifestyle. This is who we are,” James said. “And we understand that, and we know that for one step someone else might have to take … we know we gotta take five more steps.”

“But also that’s what makes us strong, it makes us powerful, makes us so unique and unified — that we’ve had so much hardship in our life, either from personal experiences or loved ones or reading history,” he added.

James ended his press conference by saying: “We’ll end this with, justice for Breonna Taylor. We’re gonna continue to harp on that. I appreciate it.”

Other high-profile NBA players, including Lakers teammates Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso, have used their media time to demand justice for Taylor this week as the members of the press gathered in Orlando to cover the restart of the season.

Taylor’s death on March 13 sent shockwaves throughout Kentucky. Louisville police officers had executed a no-knock search warrant and used a battering ram to forcefully enter the young woman’s apartment.

Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, got out of bed around midnight when they heard a commotion outside. Walker called 911, thinking there was an intruder, and fired his gun in self-defense, saying he thought his home was being broken into, according to a civil lawsuit.

The plainclothes officers returned gunfire, firing several shots and fatally hitting Taylor, police said.

It was later revealed that police had been looking for two men they believed were selling drugs out of a home near Taylor’s. Police obtained a no-knock warrant to search Taylor’s apartment because they had reason to believe that the men had used her apartment to receive packages.

One of the officers, Brett Hankison, was fired in June amid intense public pressure. Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other officers involved, were placed on administrative reassignment, but civil rights activists have said all three men should be charged.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Toronto Blue Jays to play in Buffalo

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(TORONTO) — The Toronto Blue Jays, displaced from their home stadium due to the pandemic, will play the greater part of its home season at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., the team announced Friday.

The Canadian government denied the Blue Jay’s request to play its games in Toronto because of concerns over teams crossing the border.

“This process has no doubt tested our team’s resilience, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses — we are determined to take the field on Opening Day today, and for the coming months, with the same intensity and competitiveness that our fans expect,” Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said in statement.

The Blue Jays’ opening game will be Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.