Coronavirus fears are impacting spring training, as players are passing on signing autographs in the Grapefruit League, with a deep cleaning taking place at LECOM Park.
Though there has been no confirmed cases of coronavirus linked to any American sporting event, MLB is recommending that players not sign autographs using fan-supplied baseballs or pens, and players have been briefed on potential issues. In addition, we’ve received reports that no autographs at all were being signed at today’s Pittsburgh Pirates / Philadelphia Phillies game at Spectrum Field.
In addition, the Pirates hired a crew for a deep cleaning of LECOM Park after coronavirus cases were confirmed in Manatee County and nearby Hillsborough County. There’s no indication that either confirmed case visited a spring-training ballpark, but Pirates owner Bob Nutting decided to move forward with a deep cleaning anyway. From ESPN:
The cleaning, which was confirmed by the team, included using a sanitizing machine to address surfaces in the team’s clubhouse, offices, press box, suites, dugouts and concession stands. The Pirates did not undertake the cleaning as a response to any concerns about employees or others near the team carrying coronavirus, a team spokesman told ESPN.
“In an effort to be as proactive as possible and perhaps in an overabundance of caution, we took advantage of our scheduled off day to professionally sanitize and deep clean LECOM Park,” said Brian Warecki, the Pirates’ vice president of communications. “We will continue to actively consider other efforts that we can implement to help maintain a healthy environment for our fans, players and staff.”